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Prep athletes get the chance to strut their stuff in Junior Combine




It's no secret among local high school football coaches that there's an abundance of athletic talent in the Topeka area.

The major objective of Tuesday's Topeka Area Football Coaches Association Junior Day Combine was about making sure that knowledge is no secret to college coaches either.

Seventy-four prep players, most from the class of 2022, were on hand Tuesday at Shawnee Heights to show off their talents while representives from 18 area Division II, NAIA and junior college football programs were in attendance to take a first-hand look.  

"We've done this 14 out of the last 15 years,'' said camp organizer Jason Swift, head coach at Shawnee Heights. "Last year was the only year we didn't do it, because of COVID.

"This was a good number (of participants). We've got good football players in Northeast Kansas and this is a chance to promote it.''

E0oJV9aXoAAB07dTopeka West junior Mikael Glenn goes through an agility drill at Tuesday's Junior Combine at Shawnee Heights. [Photo by Rick Peterson/TSN]

The TAFCA, along with Rebound Sports Performance, gave players who are interested in playing at the collegiate level an opportunity to test their skills in a variety of drills and tests, including electronically 40-yard dashes, the vertical jump and standing long jump, bench press, agility drills and one on one route running.

Jeremiah SmithShawnee Heights sophomore Jeremiah Smith, one of the state's premier sprinters, is timed in the 40-yard dash during Tuesday's Junior Combine at Heights. Smith was clocked in 4.33 seconds. [Photo by Rick Peterson/TSN]

"It takes a little bit of work behind the scenes, but it's all worth it if we can get a kid or two a good look or an offer or a chance to be looked at in the fall,'' Swift said.

 E0oLB3yXIAIgYbsTopeka West junior Elijah Brooks is measured in the vertical jump during Tuesday's Junior Combine at Shawnee Heights. [Photo by Rick Peterson/TSN]

Last weekend was a big one for local football, with former city stars Teven Jenkins of Topeka High and Wyatt Hubert of Shawnee Heights both being selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, and Swift said the continuing buzz from that should benefit future prospects.

"I think there's a lot of excitement because everywhere I've walked it seems like someone wants to say something about Wyatt or Jenkins and it's all good,'' Swift said. "They're very proud about the athletes that we have in the Topeka area, and rightfully so.

"It's a good feeling knowing that we have good football in Topeka and the chance to showcase it is awesome.''