By Phil Stacey
---- — What began as a terrific opportunity turned into a perfect situation for Nick Andreas.
The sophomore quarterback with the big arm from Danvers was one of just a handful of sophomores chosen among the 550 underclassmen from around the country chosen to take part in the U.S. Army National Combine in Texas last Friday. The event, held at the Alamodome in San Antonio, was a chance for some of the nation’s top players to showcase their talents for college scouts and see how they matched up against one another.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Andreas went to Texas hoping to show folks that a signal caller from Massachusetts could hold his own with the best from around the country. He returned home feeling better than ever about his gridiron ability — and his future.
“I really felt like I brought my ‘A’ game and represented Massachusetts well,” said Andreas, the Danvers High quarterback.
“Once it came down to it and I saw some of the other kids throw, I knew I could compete with them. I wanted to be the best and show off what I could do at this camp.”
He did more than that. Andreas performed so well at the one-day Combine, particularly during the 1-on-1 portion where he threw the ball to difference receivers, that he was selected to the Army All-Combine Team as an honorable mention quarterback. He was one of just 10 QBs picked for the honor — and the only one who won’t graduate high school until the spring of 2015.
He played so well in San Antonio that J.C. Shurburtt, the Director of Recruiting for 247Sports, wrote on his blog that “Andreas should emerge as a legitimate BCS-level prospect out of the state (of Massachusetts) in the coming years.”
“I definitely stepped up and spun it that day. I’m very fortunate,” said Andreas.
“After the Combine, I felt really good about myself and was confident. Right after it, Rivals.com wrote about 20 kids from the Combine and I was one of them; it was amazing. (Making the all-star team) gives me the confidence to push myself.”
Danvers head coach Sean Rogers, who appraised of Andreas’ exploits in the Lone Star State, said he wasn’t surprised given the athleticism and mind for the game that his QB has.
“It’s a testament to how hard Nick works,” said Rogers. “This is a kid who loves football, and loves it 365 days a year. A lot of guys take time off once the season ends and begin training again in the spring, but not Nick.”
Modeled after the NFL Combine that is held each year in Indianapolis for top college prospects, the U.S. Army National Combine featured many of the same measurements, physical tests and drills, such as the 40-yard dash, shuttle, high jump and bench press used to evaluate players.
Andreas was chosen for the Combine after performing well and being seen by scouts and coaches at last summer’s FBU Top Gun Camp in Virginia, again matching up against top talent from around the country. NFL rushing champion Adrian Peterson and New York Jets QB Tim Tebow are among those who have previously taken part in the Top Gun camp.
Knowing that each of the QBs would be heavily scrutinized during the 1-on-1 drills — where a QB would throw to various receivers, backs and tight ends against a defensive player — at the Combine, Andreas make a quick decision that paid off handsomely for him.
“I met a bunch of amazing athletes there from Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, California, Florida, (etc.), and made friends pretty quickly with some of the receivers,” said Andreas. “We actually got in a huddle beforehand and talked about what we wanted to do in the 1-on-1 drills: ‘You run your routes, I’ll hit you with the ball here and we’ll all look great.’ We formed that connection right away and it worked once we got going.”
Rogers said Andreas’ enthusiasm for the game and thirst to continually improve not only drives him, but also draws his teammates towards him.
“As the kids were around him more last season, they really started latching onto him. That’s Nick’s personality,” said Rogers.
Calling it “my dream” to earn a Division 1 college football scholarship, Andreas said there’s only one place he’s interested in going now that he’s back home: the weight room.
“I’ve been living in there lately,” he joked, “but want to step it up even more now. My confidence has definitely grown.”