MASSILLON, Ohio -- The 2012 Nike Football SPARQ Combine tour turns north to the Buckeye State on Saturday for the ninth Nike Football combine of the year.
Last year's Massillon Nike combine was a coming out party for LB/DL Darrien Howard of Chaminade-Julienne (Dayton, Ohio). Howard posted a 97.02 SPARQ rating in 2011, which was tops for an underclassman at the event. The athletic 6-foot-1, 265-pounder returns on Saturday looking to hit triple-digits in the testing system. West Virginia, Illinois, Pitt, Cincinnati and several MAC schools have already offered Howard, who was a Division IV All-State selection last fall.
Firestone (Akron, Ohio) wideout Kevin Gladney will be on hand and will certainly attract his share of attention. The athletic and versatile Gladney is a standout on the gridiron and the hardwood, as he led his hoops team in scoring this past season. The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder was an all-city selection last fall and currently lists scholarship offers from the likes of Michigan, Auburn, Nebraska and Michigan State.
Another Ohioan looking to improve on his performance from last year is Central Catholic (Toledo, Ohio) safety Jayme Thompson, who has already committed to West Virginia. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder posted an 81.66 SPARQ rating last spring, which included a 4.69 40-yard dash. Thompson was a DII second team All-State selection in 2011. Thompson's teammate at Central Catholic, Keith Towbridge, is a 6-foot-5, 240-pound tight end with offers from Nebraska, Illinois and Louisville. The big tight end should be a player to watch on Saturday.
The state of Michigan has always had strong representation at the Massillon Nike combine and the trend should continue on Saturday. A duo of top committed prospects figure to lead the charge. Crockett (Detroit) tight end Khalid Hill, a 6-3, 230-pounder who is pledged to Michigan, is set to test and compete on Saturday. Linebacker Jon Reschke, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound talent from Brother Rice (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.), is committed to Michigan State and is looking to post a strong combine performance.
The Massillon Nike combine will take place at the indoor practice facility for the Massillon Tigers. The property is regarded as one of the top indoor football facilities for a prep program in the nation, as it is 20,000 square feet larger than the practice facility for the Cleveland Browns.
A streak of three consecutive combines with greater than 1,000 participants figures to be extended on Saturday as players from not only Ohio, but also Michigan, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky and beyond will compete for a coveted trip to The Opening at Nike World Headquarters this July in Beaverton, Oregon.
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