Sizing up the best – The North Platte Telegraph

Each year, 300 of the top college football players in the nation are invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Ind., where they undergo a series of tests to help improve their chances of making the NFL draft.

These athletes are put through a series of tests to measure their strength and endurance. Among those conducting this year’s tests was Doug Long, a certified athletic trainer at Great Plains Sports and Therapy in North Platte.

Long recently returned from Indianapolis, where he spent two days testing 184 of the Combine participants. He said he primarily worked with punters, kickers, quarterbacks, tight ends and offensive linemen while he was there.

One of the most notable players he worked with was University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. He also helped evaluate Colt McCoy with the Texas Longhorns – the team that narrowly defeated the Cornhuskers in the Big 12 championship.

As he was asking McCoy questions for his evaluation, Long said he told McCoy that he thought they had a great season and saw a lot of success this year. However, Long told him that the Big 12 game was not what he had hoped for.

“He just kind of looked at me, and he said, ‘Are you a Nebraska guy?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ And the very next words out of his mouth were, ‘Man you guys gave us all we want, you guys really did a good job.’ So he was very gracious about it.”

At the NFL Combine, Long said he was on one of six teams that were responsible for the isokinetic testing of the participants. He said they used equipment similar to the Biodex Isokinetic Dynamometer that have at the local clinic.

“I was fortunate to get to go, and it was a great experience,” Long said.

Although he is not sure how many athletic trainers applied for a spot at this year’s NFL Combine, he suspects that it was a highly contested process, so he feels lucky to have been selected this year.

While he was there to test isokinetic strength and endurance, he said the participants underwent a wide range of tests that included psychological evaluations, drug tests, blood work, injury evaluations and even personal interviews.

“It’s kind of a job interview for them,” Long said. “They run them through the mix, because they want to know how bad Joe Blow’s knee is before they spend $12 million on them.”

While the isokinetic dynamometer was originally designed for use by athletic trainers, he said it can also be beneficial for non-athletes who are undergoing physical therapy. He said the clinic has had its Biodex system for about 20 years now.

Over the years, they have upgraded the equipment to stay current with the latest technology. After seeing the machines in use at the NFL Combine, he feels that North Platte is lucky to have a unit like this available for patients.

“We are the only clinic in town that has one of these machines,” he added.

He said the equipment can isolate any joint in the body including wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees and even ankles. He added the dynamometer allows them to isolate one specific muscle group that may be a little weaker.

“So it has a lot of uses that we’re fortunate to have access to,” Long said. “It’s not just an athlete-specific modality.”

posted with permission by the North Platte Telegraph