James Peterson has seen a number of his Turlock High football players go on to play at the collegiate level.
Mustafa Johnson, the Central California Conference Defevenisve Player of the Year in 2016 who played last season at Modesto Junior College, recently signed to letter of intent to attend the University of Colorado. Danny Velasquez, the CCC’s most valuable player in 2016 who also played at MJC, has already secured an offer from Montana State University. And 6-foot-8, 290-pound offensive lineman Everett Johnson (Class of 2020) already has made a verbal commitment to Cal.
But don’t be fooled. It’s no easy task to gain the attention of college recruiters.
And Peterson wants to help change that. That’s why on Sunday, April 22 —for the second consecutive year —Turlock’s Joe Debely Stadium will be the site of the Northern California Regional National Underclassmen Combine and Showcase Camp, for players currently in seventh through 11th grades.
The combine gets underway at 8 a.m. and will last until about noon.
“Our purpose for this combine is to help get valley kids recruited to play college football,” said Peterson, who guided the Bulldogs to a second consecutive CCC championship last fall. “I’ve always felt that our area in this valley has great football and academic talent but is always being overlooked by the big time college football teams. I want our kids to be recognized.”
Jake Dirkse is an 11th-grade middle linebacker at Turlock High. At last year’s combine , the 6-2, 220-pound Dirkse belted off a 4.76 in the 40-yard dash, in his last of three tries.
“So last year, I was on the fence about going out there,” Dirke said. “I thought it was just going to be Turlock kids and there wouldn’t be a lot of energy. But there were kids from places I’d never even heard of. And it brought a lot of competition and a competitive vibe that pushed me to do my best out there.”
He has drawn interest from Montana, Cal Poly, Sacramento State. He attended Sac State’s Junior Day recently. He plans to attend Sunday and hopes he can generate even more buzz heading into his senior season.
Players can register for the combine online for $59. At the combine, they’ll be put through various drills —40-yard dash, broad jump, vertical jump, positional evalutations and individual drills —and the results will be entered in a national database.
“They put the scores on a national website that helps rank guys,” said Peterson. “This information gets sent out everywhere. A guy at a small school, who might not get seen by scouts, could become a highly recurited kid based on his combine attributes.
“These schools are investing a lot of money (in recruits) so they dot their I’s and cross their T’s.”
In the past scouts have, naturally, focussed on large population centers. More players equals more chances to find that standout player.
“I definitely think the larger markets like Sacramento or the Bay Area have received more love from the big schools,” said Peterson. “However, I also feel like we could do more as coaches in this valley to help get our kids the recognition they deserve. We are going to do our part by hosting this NUC combine every year.”
WHAT: Northern California Regional National Underclassmen Combine and Showcase Camp
WHEN: Sunday, April 22, 8 a.m. to noon
WHERE: Turlock High's Joe Debely Stadium (main entrance at Colorado and Marshall)
WHO: For players currently in seventh through eleventh grades.
SIGN UP: To register, go to NUCsports.com and hover over "register now" and then click on "NUC combines." Once there, select "California" from the drop-down menu and then sign up for the Turlock combine.