Preparing for the Combine: The D1 Way

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The NFL Scouting Combine is a daunting task for NFL prospects. This week, 300-plus NFL hopefuls descend upon Indianapolis and Lucas Oil Stadium to try and impress NFL front offices from each of the league's 32 teams.

D1 Sports Training in Franklin, Tenn. has a six-week Combine University training program to help get athletes prepared to show out this week. The VIP treatment includes elite facilities, a full meal plan, physical therapy and daily workouts. D1's top-dollar program spares no expense in providing draft prospects the best chance to make it as a professional football player.

Jimmy Graham, TJ Lang, Tim Tebow, and DeAngelo Williams are some of the more prominent names to come through D1's combine prep program.

Duke quarterback Anthony Boone and Alabama/Colorado State running back Dee Hart are the two D1 Nashville prospects who have received invitation to the combine. Boone was a three-year starter with the Blue Devils, throwing for 5,789 career passing yards and 38 touchdowns. Hart played his first two seasons at Alabama before transferring to Colorado State. In his only season with the Rams, Hart put up 1,275 rushing yards and 18 total touchdowns.

The program is led by Dario Camacho, a former Purdue Boilermaker who has been training athletes with D1 since 2006.

The focus of D1's Combine University is to improve a player's speed and technique in regards to the measurable drills at the combine (40-yard dash, shuttle run, etc.). Players will workout six days a week with a speed component and a weight lifting component build into each day.

Monday is a linear upper body day. Tuesday is for agility and lower body explosiveness. Wednesday is a stretch recovery day with massage therapy. Thursday is another linear day. Friday is back to agility with a light weight lifting portion. Saturday is an upper body pump followed by a pool recovery.

In addition, players go through position-specific football drills on Tuesdays and Fridays. Those workouts are geared specifically to the position drills they will be going through with NFL coaches at the combine.

At the onset of the program, each player is tested in all six measureable drills at the combine: the 40-yard dash, broad jump, vertical jump, shuttle run, three-cone drill and bench press at 225-pounds. The players are then tested at the mid point of the program, their last measurements before the combine itself.

Six weeks of intense preparation, all for one set of workouts among 300 peers and in front of thousands of scrutinizing sets of eyes. The high-pressure nature of the combine makes a player's mental toughness just as important as their athletic ability.

"I would say 85 percent of it is mental," Camacho said. "It affects their breathing pattern, everything. When guys get frustrated, they break down a bit. I've seen one mistake ruin a guy's entire day. A lot of guys ride their whole careers on this event."

Both Boone and Hart said the 40-yard dash is the easiest drill, calling it the "God-Gifted" drill. You're either fast, or you're not. You were either born with fast-twitch muscles, or you weren't.

The other two speed drills – the three-cone drill (or "L drill) and the shuttle – are much more specific. Each requires a specific number of steps, not dissimilar to dance choreography, in order to complete the drills in the fastest possible time. That requires laser focus.

"The combine is all about steps and measurements," said Camacho. "There is no reaction where the line is going to move. After the first three to four weeks, the guys are starting to get their steps and foot placement down. Then it's all about repetition, getting comfortable with it and not thinking about it."

Boone said some of the best advice he's gotten is that he's been playing football his whole life. Sure, some of the drills are new, but it's a part of the game he loves and has been playing for years.

Hart's words of wisdom were that he only has to impress one team, not all 32.

Camacho's players aren't highly touted entering the combine. Neither Boone nor Hart are currently ranked in Mel Kiper's top 10 at their respective positions. CBS Sports ranks Boone as the 16th quarterback of the draft class. They have Hart as the 25th ranked running back.

The rankings don't sway Camacho's confidence in his guys.

"The numbers don't lie," he said. "If they go out and perform then they'll see themselves climb the draft boards. You don't get invited to Indianapolis for nothing. Whether you're projected as a first-round guy or a seventh-round guy, you don't get invited if you're a nobody."

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