The world of college football recruiting has changed drastically in the last 10 years. College coaches have many different options available to them, from summer camps to highlight videos, the information for coaches is plentiful.
With information, at times, comes misinformation -- like inaccurate 40-yard-dash times or generous height and weight measurements. And it has created a growing quandary for coaches, leaving them wondering ... how do I know what's real?
That quandary is what sparked the American Football Coaches Association to begin the National Athletic Testing System (NATS). A combination of standardized skills tests, the NATS combine is being touted as the "SAT of athletic testing." In conjunction with the Oklahoma Football Coaches Association, the first NATS combine is being held today at the Everest Training Center in Norman.
"One of the biggest problems (with summer recruiting) is having so many combines," said Edmond Memorial coach Mark Walker, who is the test director for the Oklahoma NATS combine. "When there are that many, you don't know how legitimate those times are. Anyone can run a 4.3, but how do you know they ran a 4.3? Are they really 6-2 or are they 5-11? This is a good deal because it's standardized."
Westmoore quarterback Ryan Fightmaster and teammate Zack Tolliver are among several Oklahoma high school football players who will participate in the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill, short shuttle drill, bench press and broad jump at today's combine while also getting accurate body and weight measurements.
The key to the physical drills is the standardized, unbiased method of keeping the results.
"There is a NATS rep who verifies the scores," Walker said. "Either they are legitimate or they're not. They (NATS Staff) legitimize it by bringing a separate entity which has nothing to gain doing it."
At the conclusion of the combine, the players will be added to a online database which is available free-of-charge to college coaches around the nation. The searchable database on the NATS website (www.nats.us) allows college coaches to find superior athletes, who they may not have heard of, which allows them to narrow down the athletes they are interested in requesting film from.