MercyHeath Top Performers combine helps football players connect with colleges


Local athletes aren’t simply competiting on the playing fields. They’re competiting to get noticed by college recruiters and coaches.  Tim Bailey of Rockford helped several football players with that department this past weekend.

It was a big turnout of football players at the indoor facility at MercyHealth Sportscore Two Saturday evening. 110 players in all.

“We had kids come out from Plainfield. We had kids come out from Lisle. We had kids come out from Addison  Trail, the suburbs,” said Bailey.

Plus there were players from Janesville, Freeport, Stillman Valley and Byron.

They were participating in Bailey’s first MerceyHealth Top Performers combine.  Players were timed and measured for speed, power and jumping ability by Zybek Sports of Denver, Colorado. That’s the company that works with the NFL combine. The data was collected by Clint Cosgrove, the Midwest recruiter for National Preps.

“I’ve been to probably 30 combines, camps similar to this this offseason all the way from January to now and this was a first-class event,” said  Cosgrove.

Cosgrove will forward the data to coaches at 250 colleges that National Preps contracts with.

“They use it for their recruit boards, their mailing lists so they can be recruiting athletes who have a chance to play for them,” said Cosgrove.

There was more to this combine than measurements. The players broke down by position to get tips from area coaches and former star players from the Rockford area. Former Boylan and current Tennesse State quarterback Demry Croft worked with the quarterbacks.

“I do enjoy it,” said  Croft. “You know it’s fun because I never really had someone push me like that, so if I can push someone else no one knows what they can do. There’s a lot of talent in this city.”

That’s why Bailey put on this combine. He wants to make sure that youngsters with football talent in the Stateline are seen by colleges, and he wants to make sure these youngsters are on the right path academically and socially in order to make their college dreams come true.

“When you do the right things there are opportunities out there. Doors will open,” shouted Bailey to the players huddled around him.

“The coaches are just on you, on you and the reps… the one-v.-ones all that,” said Freeport football player Keondre Jackson.

“It was very helpful,” said Byron football player Isaac Stickler. “I prepared so much for it. I went  out during the week and ran routes and just everything, ran drills just to come here and showoff my God-given abililities and gifts.”

“It was very helpful,” said Freeport football player Matthew Chavers. “There were some current college players here helping us with the drills. Some guys who have been in our position before and played at the college level, so they were giving us all types of tips and everything.”

Bailey says this combine will become an annual event. He might even hold two a year.

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