Home Blog McCallister’s Take on Football Combines

McCallister’s Take on Football Combines


In the last three days I have received four emails about a sportswriter from Detroit named Mick McCabe. I do not know who he is and could care less. I guess he is providing his expertise about high school football combines. Realize – I did not build up my scouting service listening to sports writers.

Anyway, this guy took some shots at combines. “If you think college coaches pay attention to anything that happens at these combines, you are delusional.” His quote. Oh my! College coaches pay for this information from me. Some have had questions about performance. Some have contacted recruits, saying McCallister reports that you did well at the MSR combines. I know that a former head coach at Ohio State had questions. Maybe they do pay attention sometimes.

To a large extent, combines provide content for media recruiting writers to use on their sites. They write stories about some of the top performances. The reporters give free exposure to participants. When they start trying to evaluate a player, I always am concerned. Really, of all the ones who do this, from Rivals, Scout, and 247, there is really only one guy who gets it. Reporting on players gives a player some exposure, but I hate to see reporters trying to evaluate them.

Under Armour and Nike run combines, but so much of that is marketing. I find very little value in a SPARQ score. When the NFL does it, I will look into it. When you go to a NIKE combine, you also get a chance to join a recruiting service for upwards to 1500 dollars. You can buy shoes and shirts as well.

MSROHIO Developmental Combines.

First and foremost, the MSROHIO combines and Camps are not money making scams. Last year a parent/coach called my Underclassman Showcase – “just a money-maker.” It rained the whole time, so I changed the camp schedule. After he ripped me in an email, his last comment was – “just a money-maker.” I hardly ever respond to stupidity, but in this case I did.

Insurance costs me 1,440 dollars for the combines. Shirts cost me a lot. Putting sponsors names on the back makes them look like “billboards.” Plus I do not want sponsors. I pay my help well, because I expect them to do well and I want them to come back. I usually rent the facility. Trust me, combines are not  big money makers.

Combines should be an educational tool. The tests that we do are basically done in every college summer camp. I want the my prospects to understand just how the drill works. We make the prospect do the drill completely. Nothing for our workers to let a player have three or four chances at one test. What difference does it make? If he does it wrong, he gets another chance. More so, he is required to do it over to get it right.

Yes, we actually put lines down on the pro shuttle. I have been to combines where there were no lines for the pro shuttle. Yesterday, there were no lines. That is amazing to me. How do you get an accurate time, when you do not touch the line? We have judges making sure they touch the lines. No touch – no time. Go again. In Toledo two years ago, a sophomore ran a 3.9 pro shuttle. Not possible and no lines.

No bench press. Time limits. Can be dangerous at times. We use the medicine ball. Just as good a way to measure explosiveness and upper body strength as a bench press. Much safer. Knees on floor and the player simulates a chest pass, but he angles at least 45 degrees. Each player gets as many chances as time allows.

We vertical off of a pad which gives a height. Saves time. Not as accurate as the “slats,” but gives a good indication of high a player can get. Of course, there are ways to cheat by bending your knees. We try not to count those attempts. We actually had a head coach in Southwest Ohio a few years ago telling players how to cheat. Oh my!! What would be purpose of cheating?

On the 40 yard test. The 40 yard test tells me whether a guy is fast or slow. I like to watch a player’s face as he runs. The 40 test does mean not too much to a big OL/DL guy. Except I like to watch his athleticism. Also like to see if he is tough enough to finish strong. The 40 yard test is a solid indicator. The best time to run it is with pads on and a football at he end of the race. Run two fast guys, but see who picks up the football.

Who is timing a really important. I do not use coaches. My timers are skilled and have a lot of experience. We also use the electronic timer, to give the player an idea of the difference. In Cleveland a few years ago the 40 was really 37 yards. Makes sense. The guy running it also was a speed trainer. Good times were had by all!!

Actually, I have parents complain as much about measuring heights/weights as anything else. Stocking feet. We get a very accurate height and weight. Colleges want this. A few years ago in C-bus we had a parent complaining about the height. Said that it was 2 inches short. I was concerned because I put the tape measure on the wall. As we checked it he was right. Not two inches off, but 1/8 of an inch. His comment-“How do you get colleges to stop, if you tell them correct height. A woman told me once that the doctor measured her son two inches taller two weeks prior.

Nike, Under Armour, and all of the other recruiting service combines are probably the ones for players to attend. Ours is just a “mom and pops” outfit. Small time. We do not have the fancy SPARQ scores, or internet media recruiting services evaluating players, or awards that give a player a chance to attend a national combine. If a player does well at an MSROHIO combine, he does not get considered for a National All Star game next December.

MSROHIO Developmental combines are actually pretty simple. All you have is a chance to learn, to compete, and to get better. I am guessin, if a player does well, some colleges might find out about his performance from an honest source.







  1. Wendi Malick

    February 17, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    My son went to numerous combines and camps last year, including some pretty high profile and expensive ones. His favorites? MSROHIO – he felt they “really worked him hard.” And as a parent, I witnessed the one-on-one coaching that the boys received, even in the pouring down rain.

    Thank you, Coach McCallister. We are so grateful for the opportunities that you provide, and we’re looking forward to our final combines and camps with you this spring.


    • John McCallister

      February 19, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      Thank you. We work hard at what we do. When I do things for kids, I want them to leave being better than when they arrived. Plus, things must be done right. Being done correctly is really important to me.


  2. Jim

    February 19, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    In general anytime on the field to compete and get someone to evaluate you and provide feedback is an opportunity to get better.
    The thing I continue to see and that bothers me somewhat is people already seem to have their minds made up on who is “good”. Players come in with reputations and I am a sure they are deserved and if you don’t have a reputation coming in do you get the same chance to be seen? I am not always so sure.
    Totally understand you have to create your own reputation and hype.


    • John McCallister

      February 19, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      Of course, what sells? The prospects that you read about on recruiting sites One of biggest concerns is when in February or March that people try to “rank” or “rate” prospects for the next fall. But ranking prospects is what brings readers to internet sites. Readers to internet sites brings in money. End of story. I do not know if the answer is necessarily “create your own hype or reputation.” The answer is to work your butt off and then impress the “decision-makers” in the summer college football camps. Finalize that by playing really hard next fall. College football coaches will tell you that early non-college camps can hurt a prospect, just as much as help. I can tell you the Joey Burrow story, but , of course, I will not. Simply, a prospect should control what he can control. For me, the fun is when I see a prospect who is doing well and I have to ask “who’s he.”


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