The best high school players in the country are at Nike headquarters in Oregon this week taking part in The Opening. Part of their time there is spent going through the Nike Football Recruit SPARQ test, a set of four exercises that, when combined with the player's weight, provides a numerical score that gauges that player's athleticism.
The four exercises included in the current SPARQ test are (with descriptions taken from Nike's Opening website):
- 40-yard dash: A measure of off-the-mark quickness and transition to top speed.
- Vertical jump: Your vertical jump height and body weight are factored together to assess your peak power.
- 5-10-5 shuttle (also known as the 20-yard shuttle run): A drill demanding split second changes of posture, direction and speed.
- Kneeling powerball toss: A test designed to measure the ability to develop and deliver coordinated power.
A player's results in those four exercises, when normalized by weight, gives a number that measures the player's power, agility, speed, explosiveness and overall athleticism.
A SPARQ score of 130 or higher puts a player in elite athletic company. The SPARQ winner at The Opening in 2014 was running back Kirk Merritt, who put up a score of 147.60, two points clear of second place Malik Jefferson. Merritt eventually signed with Oregon, and Jefferson, a linebacker, signed with Texas. In 2013, future Texas A&M wide receiver Speedy Noil put up the top score at 153.51, and future Georgia star Nick Chubb (perhaps unsurprisingly) had a 143.91.
Earlier this year, Florida State cornerback recruit Levonta Taylor of Virginia Beach posted a score North of 140, and looks to be the favorite to take home the crown in 2015: