Jeff Diamond is passionate about high school football.
So much, in fact, that he helped accompany 11 of the best prep football underclassmen in Oklahoma to Memphis over the weekend.
As Diamond tells it, without question, they “had a blast.”
“We visited Beale Street and we went to Rendezvous (Restaurant),” Diamond told MemphiSport on Monday. “For me, that was probably the highlight. It was good. It was really good.”
That Diamond had the luxury of feasting on Memphis’ famous barbecue and touring the second-most popular street in the Bluff City next to Elvis Presley Boulevard weren’t the only experiences that brought about a sense enjoyment to the Shawnee, Oklahoma native.
Diamond and Co. also had the luxury of witnessing several of Oklahoma’s top prep football underclassmen put their immense skills on display in the Southern Elite Combine Series. The one-day combine was comprised of a number of the top college football prospects in Memphis and the surrounding regions.
For the Oklahoma footballers, making the six-plus-hour commute from the Oklahoma City area wasn’t just a trip in which they established camaraderie among teammates and players whom they could face during the 2015 season.
This latest trip to the football-crazed Mid-South also afforded them the golden opportunity to demonstrate why an assortment of colleges has already inquired about their services in the foreseeable future.
Not only were players tested in various disciplines, most notably the 40-yard dash, agility (short shuffle), vertical jump, bench press (185-pound reps), broad jump, and three-cone drill, among others but, to their credit, they showed why Oklahoma is starting to become a hotbed for college football prospects.
“Overall, I was very impressed,” Diamond said in assessing the players’ showing in Memphis. “They went up against some kids who very good. They held their own.”
And, for their efforts, they were rewarded accordingly, coming away with a slew of accolades, something about which Diamond senses will serve as a great confidence booster for these thriving Oklahoma footballers.
For instance, Shawnee High’s Creed Humphrey, Tyree York-Allen, Jack Diamond, and Caleb Hash each garnered high performance ratings for favorable performances in their respective position. Tecumseh High’s Jasper Smiley also won an award.
As a result, each player earned invites to return to the Mid-South in June, this time as part of the prestigious Southern Elite Top 150 Combine in Oxford, Mississippi.
“The two (offensive) linemen did incredible against some excellent competition” said Diamond, “and our 3rd lineman, Stetson Perez once adjusted to the level of competition he really did well.”
In addition, he was impressed with Tyree York-Allen, Isaiah Strayhorn and Caleb Murray, particularly how they complemented the performance of Jack Diamond, a rising quarterback for Shawnee. The group, in fact, showed excellent teamwork and excelled in their respective positions. “Isaiah and Tyree are excellent receivers with loads of potential,” Jeff Diamond said. “Caleb is young but really has a chance to be good. I thought (Jack) did great. It’s kind of hard for me to talk about my own kid. But I think he’s coming along well. “With the quality of receivers and running backs we brought from not only Shawnee but meeker and Tecumseh as well, it was easy for Jack to feel comfortable.”
Besides the seven Shawnee players who appeared in the Southern Elite Combine Series, two other Oklahoma schools were represented in Memphis.
Tecumseh High’s Jasper Smiley, a junior linebacker, and fellow junior Stetson Perez also appeared at the regional combine. Also, Meeker High’s Jordan Campbell and Levi Bagwell were on hand in Memphis.
According to Jeff Diamond, among the reasons the Oklahoma players enjoyed a stellar showing at their latest combine is due in large part to the Shawnee-area Performance Course Training Center. At his facility, Performance Course Training Center in Shawnee, which has partnered with one of the top training groups in Texas, Performance Course of Allen, to help these players become better athletes. Also, Jeff Diamond felt the stellar showing materialized in large part because of the contributions and guidance of the area high school coaches.
“We have excellent high school coaches and at Performance Course Training Center in Shawnee we are working to help these kids to become better athletes,” Diamond said. “If we can help them become better athletes then their coaches teach them the skills to compete not just under the lights each Friday, but compete amongst the best and brightest prep football players in America,” Diamond said.
That was evident, given the masterful showing they exhibited over the weekend in Memphis.
“I think (their confidence) will skyrocket,” Jeff Diamond said. “Anytime you go somewhere and do well, it gets you fired up. We plan to hit a few other combines (this spring), so we hope to bring some others. It’s a lot of work. It’s kind of like watching 11 of my own kids. But I’ll do it every weekend…watching them perform.”
Not to mention having a blast in the process.
OKLAHOMA PREP FOOTBALL PLAYERS WHO APPEARED IN SOUTHERN ELITE COMBINE SERIES IN MEMPHIS (listed in alphabetical order by last names)
Levi Bagwell, Junior Wide Receiver, Meeker High
Jordan Campbell, Sophomore Running Back, Meeker High
Jack Diamond, Sophomore Quarterback, Shawnee High
Caleb Hash, Junior Offensive Lineman, Shawnee High
Creed Humphrey, Sophomore Offensive Lineman, Shawnee High
Spencer Gordon, Sophomore Linebacker, Shawnee High
Caleb Murray, Freshman Running Back, Shawnee High
Stetson Perez, Junior Offensive Lineman, Tecumseh High
Jasper Smiley, Junior Linebacker, Tecumseh High
Isaiah Strayhorn, Junior Wide receiver, Shawnee High
Tyree York-Allen, Sophomore Wide Receiver, Shawnee High
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, send email to email@example.com. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.