Yesterday, for the second straight year, the Indoor Sports Pavilion in Randolph, played host to the Roman's Soldiers Showcase, run by former NFL offensive lineman Roman Oben.
Attendance doubled in size from last year, when approximately 40 young men from grades 8-11 participated. This year, 75 players registered for the camp, hailing from all over New Jersey, as well as New York City.
"We had much bigger numbers than last year and it's good to see coaches sending their kids in groups, like the new West Orange coach Jim Matsakis," Oben said. "The Rancocas Valley kids were very solid as a group and it was good to see the smaller group program kids (like North Arlington's Michael Brazzel) mix it up with group 4 & 5 kids."
During the three and a half-hour showcase, the athletes were broken up by position to perform drills and hone position-specific skills and techniques under the tutelage of several high school coaches.
One-on-one's and two-on-two's were also part of the itinerary, which was football-intensive and did not feature the common physical tests (40-yard dash, broad jump, etc.) found at any combine.
"The QB - WR relationship is tough early on with kids who hadn't previously worked together but I saw a lot of kids get better throughout the day," Oben said. "That's the confidence they'll need going into the spring & summer."
At the conclusion of the event, a handful of individual awards were given out, with top overall player honors going to Rancocas Valley junior TE/DE Tyler Schneider. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Schneider shone as a pass catcher throughout the afternoon, and is receiving collegiate interest from Stony Brook, Temple, Maryland, and Penn State among others.
Meanwhile, Williamstown CB/RB Mark Ellis was named the top junior at the event, a nice accomplishment after missing the entire 2012 season with a torn right ACL. The 5-foot-9 Ellis was the top cover man on the day, shadowing receivers and using his physicality to break up several passes during 1-on-1 segments.
The top sophomore at the event, Rancocas Valley quarterback Jordan Sadusky is an intriguing player to watch in the class of 2015. He passes the eye test as a quarterback, and should get some attention playing for a program that possesses several next level prospects.
The "Roman's Solider" Award went out to West Orange lineman Marvin Baptiste, while top ninth and eighth grade honors went to Keelan Thomas and Kashaun Decker, respectively.
Other notable performers included rising Rancocas Valley junior Isaiah Gibson, Rancocas Valley 2015 TE/DE Kenny White and Mount St. Michael (N.Y.) product Aaron Viltres