J.K. Dobbins, an Ohio State commit from La Grange, Texas, won the SPARQ testing national title last week at The Opening in Beaverton, Ore. The tests are supposed to determine the best athlete at the event and SPARQ is an acronym for speed, power, agility, reaction and quickness. The tests have not always been successful in measuring how good a prospect a player is.
Landon Collins won the SPARQ title in 2011 as a safety at Dutchtown (Geismar, La.). He went on to be an All-American safety as a junior at Alabama and started last season as a rookie with the New York Giants. Since Collins, however, the national SPARQ ratings winner at The Opening hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations.
In 2012, Mike Mitchell, the son of former NFL linebacker Ken Mitchell, won the SPARQ title. Mitchell, then a linebacker from Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas), transferred from Ohio State after red-shirting his freshman year. This past season at Texas Tech, his first after missing a year because of the transfer, he had a total of seven tackles in nine games and is transferring again.
In 2013, Speedy Noil, an athlete from Edna Karr (New Orleans), won the SPARQ title. He started as a receiver for Texas A&M as a true freshman in 2014 but missed four games last season (two for injury and two for suspension) and will miss the Aggies’ opener with UCLA this season with a suspension after he was ticketed for driving without a license last December.
The Aggies have another former SPARQ winner headed their way in 2014 winner Kirk Merritt from Destrehan, La. The receiver recently announced he was transferring to Texas A&M after one season at Oregon, where he caught five passes for 61 yards.
At least the jury is still out on Dobbins, who is entering his senior year as an all-purpose back at La Grange, and the 2015 winner, Donovan Peoples-Jones, who is entering his senior year at Cass Tech (Detroit) after hauling in 47 catches for 1,097 yards and 15 touchdowns in 14 games as a junior.