Desmond Hall, a ninth grade student at Carver in Dothan, has the same sort of dreams the other 1,000-plus athletes have that attended the Rivals Combine Series event at Rip Hewes Stadium on Saturday.
“I hope to get the recognition, you know?” Hall said as he stood outside the fence surrounding the venue after completing his drills. “I’m trying to go D-I.”
The combine, set up similar to the NFL Combine, lets players test their skills in the 40-yard dash, broad jump and other skill and agility drills.
Hall, who plays running back and cornerback, was among the youngest athletes at the combine. It gave him a chance to see what he needs to improve on in the coming years.
“The only thing I disliked was the 40 yards (dash), because I feel like I can run way faster than 5 flat,” Hall said of his showing. “At school when I was timed, it was more like a 4.5. It was a little slippery because it rained yesterday and the turf was a little moist.”
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It made him more determined to get better in the future.
“It was a humbling experience, for real, because I’m a little cocky sometimes,” Hall said. “That 40 … I was like, ‘Five (flat), oh man, I’m this slow? Oh no, I’m going to have to come back.’”
Dothan native Izell Reese, a former star defensive back at UAB and in the NFL ranks, is the CEO of RCX Sports, which oversees the combine series in addition to a football camp for selected players that will be held Sunday. Though he now lives in Atlanta, Reese wanted to host the event in the town he grew up in and starred as a high school player at Northview.
It made it especially convenient for players of the Wiregrass and throughout the state to participate.
Scott Myers made the drive from Birmingham to bring his son, Will, to compete.
“It was an opportunity to come and see where he stands relative to other kids across the state,” Myers said of his son, who is a sophomore quarterback at Homewood High School.
“It’s an opportunity to compete at little bit, especially in the quarterback camp a little later in the afternoon, to be able to throw and to kind of see some things he can work on to get some experience and get some additional work in.
“Rivals is very well known in the athletic community and we were just online looking and found out about the camp. To have one here in Alabama and in Dothan was an easy drive for us and a great opportunity to come down and participate.”
Dothan is one of nine sites the Rivals Combine Series is being held this spring. The first was held in Los Angeles last weekend and other sites to follow are Miami, Charlotte, Atlanta, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Dallas and Piscataway, N.J.
Reese partnered with Visit Dothan and the City of Dothan to make Dothan one of the stops on the combine tour and the attendance of athletes from throughout the southeast was encouraging.
“The turnout has been more than we expected,” said Robert Hillman of Visit Dothan. “There’s been more than a thousand kids come through at this point and we’re just past noon.
“Talking to the people who have come out to see what’s going on, just can’t believe this is in Dothan, Alabama. This is certainly incredible for our resume in sports and what we can do in Dothan. We would like to make this a permanent home if we can.”
For more information, go to the website www.rivalscampseries.com