NCF On The Trail: 2013 U.S. Army Combine

SAN ANTONIO -- Few freshmen are able to do what running back Gabe Angel (Lebanon, Tenn./Wilson Central) can do. Then again, few freshmen are built like the 6-foot-3, 216-pound running back.

Angel can bench press 250 pounds, and while he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds at the U.S. Army National Combine on Friday, his personal-best time is 4.6 seconds.

Angel’s efforts at the combine made heads turn. During 1-on-1 drills, Angel made a beautiful, one-handed catch. He immediately followed that with another one-handed catch. All eyes were on the player wearing No. 404 in his first Army combine -- despite the fact that he’s only 15 years old.

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SAN ANTONIO -- ESPN Watch List running back Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Hendrickson) was the talk of the U.S. Army National Combine. A shade under 5-foot-11 and now at a muscular 224 pounds, Perine is bigger and tougher to tackle.

He’s also healthy. That’s the most important thing. After an injury to his left knee that he once thought was career-threatening, Perine now not only is at full speed but also is one of the most intriguing and dangerous 2014 backs in Texas.

Perine showed his skills Friday at the U.S. Army National Combine at the Alamodome. It was his first combine since the injury, which occurred in November of 2011.

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SAN ANTONIO -- Ask those in attendance watching quarterbacks, and you’d hear positive feedback regarding 2014 Coleman Key (Broken Arrow, Okla./Broken Arrow).

Measuring in at almost 6-foot-5 and 224 pounds, Key has the size that every college coach wants in a quarterback. On Friday, Key showed he has arm strength and overall skill to go with that size at the U.S. Army National Combine at the Alamodome. He didn’t get as many repetitions in 1-on-1 drills as he wanted because of the many quarterbacks at the combine, but when he had the ball, he made his turns count.

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SAN ANTONIO -- ESPN Watch List defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson (El Dorado, Ark./El Dorado) made an impact at Friday’s U.S. Army National Combine, showing his worth in individual drills and excelling in 1-on-1 drills.

There’s a reason Arkansas wanted him. And listen to the 6-foot-2, 334-pound tackle speak, there’s a reason why he chose the Razorbacks once the offer was extended.

“I’ve always been an Arkansas fan. I couldn’t see myself going anywhere else,” Jackson said. “With the new coaches hired, and with me a defensive lineman, I think I can learn a lot from them.”

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SAN ANTONIO - - ESPN Watch List offensive tackle Mike Grimm (Bethel Park, Pa.) was on a mission to represent his state on Friday at the U.S. Army National Combine, and he did just that.

Grimm (6-foot-6, 310 pounds) won 10 of his 12 1-on-1s to cap off a very impressive day.

“I just wanted to win all of my 1-on-1s and show everyone what’s going on with Pittsburgh,” he said. “I think I did pretty good. I ran a 5.5 40. I had a vertical of 23.5 and won all but two 1-on-1s.”

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SAN ANTONIO -- Nick Alexander (Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster) will never forget playing for a state championship. While his team came up short in the final, the 2014 ESPN Watch List wide receiver has made it a personal goal to do as much possible to help Lancaster return to state.

Alexander was one of roughly 500 participants at the U.S. Army National Combine at the Alamodome, and he entered the facility with one thing in mind -- getting better.

“It was a good combine that showed me I needed to get better in certain areas on the field,” Alexander said. “I can improve on my speed and my ability to do things where I can make people surprised.”

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SAN ANTONIO -- It’s hard to stand out in a crowd of roughly 500 prospects in a space as vast as the Alamodome, but ESPN Watch List defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) was able to on Friday.

Thomas performed as you’d expect in 1-on-1 drills and tested out well, all except for one event, according to him.

“I felt good about everything but the 40,” Thomas said. “I felt my start wasn’t good. My first step was too short. I stood up too straight. But it’s OK my 40 time isn’t what matters against the competition anyway.”

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SAN ANTONIO -- 2014 wide receiver Emanuel Porter (Dallas/Lincoln) committed to TCU in August. What many seem to forget is that he’s still relatively new to the offseason lifestyle of a football player.

Porter, a longtime basketball player, took in his first football combine experience Friday at the U.S. Army National Combine at the Alamodome. He said he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.68 seconds and also recorded a 32 -inch vertical -- noteworthy for an athlete just shy of 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds.

“It was great. I was nervous, but I just relaxed and did what I have to do,” Porter said. “It was crazy.”

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