Just when you thought the high school football recruiting circuit was running out of avenues to expand, it goes and launches a European Combine.
The 247Sports/PPI Recruits European Combine was held in Amsterdam last weekend, and drew players from Germany, the home-fielding Netherlands and a handful of other European nations. According to 247Sports Director of Scouting Barton Simmons, there were a handful of intriguing, if raw prospects, all of whom are likely to end up at an American college program.
And, in an intriguing wrinkle, it appears one oft-overlooked Division I FBS program is targeting the best of the combine, particularly on defense.
As noted by Simmons, UMass has already extended scholarship offers to three players who competed at the combine, and it’s highly possible they could target others as well. Linebacker Neche Ugwuozor, Hugo Klages and Liridon Mujezinovic all received offers from the Minutemen, with at least one (Klages) potentially eligible to begin playing this fall.
The push is a fascinating one from an independent UMass program that often struggles to compete with more well-known programs (read: all of them) across the FBS. Perhaps targeting pure potential in Europe is a path to success when facing tough schedules and facility and fan challenges.
Or, perhaps UMass will simply serve as the gateway program for a number of these prospects. In addition to Ugwuozor, Klages and Mujezinovic, there is genuine potential and raw size and skill on offer across the content that remains untapped. Felix Meintz is a 6-foot-3, 255-pound defensive end who can bench 225 pounds an incredible 17 times. Joe Cassidy is a former gymnast, trampolinist (!) and diver who apparently was a natural when asked to backpedal as a defensive back. Miles Zietek is a German offensive lineman who goes 6-foot-5, 264 and apparently could work his way into a Power 5 program. Marcel Dabo is apparently an athletic freak who hasn’t played enough football to be familiar with the sport, but could land at a Power 5 program with seasoning.
And then there’s uber-athlete Martin Lamou, an erstwhile Florida State triple jump recruit who was sent back into the wild because of a transcript snafu and is now focusing on football. He jumped 10 feet in the broad jump, ran 4.32 in the shuttle and 4.60 in the 40 in Amsterdam. Those are serious numbers.
It all paints the picture of a fascinating and untapped avenue for college programs to find new talent. In an industry where you’re only as good as your latest recruiting class, identifying top prep talent as far afield as Europe may not only be the future, but also the present.