Traditionally, the college athletic recruitment process can be intimidating for students and families trying to navigate it. Of course, the current pandemic has caused unprecedented upheaval across the board for student athletes, and in the midst of a global pandemic, things haven’t gotten less stressful.

COVID-19 and its continued impact on just about every facet of life has disrupted many things in higher education. In the past, high school student-athletes depended on playing a full regular season for their respective sport, along with getting in front of college coaches at showcases, tournaments, and clinics, and physically visiting college campuses.

With the return of high school sports, the current seasons are nothing like what they normally would be. Current juniors and seniors, who were looking forward to showcases in California over the past year, had them all cancelled and most NCAA Division I coaches haven’t been allowed to conduct in-person recruiting since the pandemic started, either. COVID-19 budget woes have even prompted some colleges to cut sports programs, meaning fewer landing spots for recruits.

While it’ll be harder for student athletes to get seen and recruited by college coaches, it’s still possible. Even though the pandemic has generally made life more difficult, it has also created opportunities athletic recruits can take advantage of. One big opportunity is coming to Murrieta in the form of a combine taking place Sunday, March 21, at Murrieta Mesa High School.

The local Standardized Athlete Testing (SAT) combine will be for football, soccer, and lacrosse athletes. The two companies hosting the event are Elite Prep Recruiting (EPR) and Zybek Sports, which does the timing at the NFL Combine and they host pro days at major universities all over the country. Elite Prep Recruiting was formed by a team of local coaches and high school admin with the goal to work with student-athletes and families to ensure they are receiving proper and relevant guidance during the recruiting process.

“We provide the roadmap and tools, but the ultimate success depends on the desire and commitment of the student-athlete,” says Jason Hamm, EPR representative and Assistant Principal at Murrieta Mesa High School.

Elite Prep Recruiting plans to deliver a quality look at what each athlete has to offer in the classroom and on the athletic field to college recruiters and coaches. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Hamm got to experience coaching an All-star football game in Mexico where they put the athletes through an NFL-style combine conducted by Zybek Sports. He took those reports that both coaches and student-athletes received from the combine and showed his EPR team how these could be used to help kids get real numbers to college coaches.

“This is an incredible opportunity to get real numbers and measurements for those student-athletes wishing to continue their careers after high school,” added Hamm. “We sent emails to over 1500 college head coaches of various sports and we learned that if a Class of ’21 athlete really has the desire to play in college, there are still spots. We also learned that it is already competitive for the ’22 class and that the ’23 and ’24 athletes need to start making a recruiting plan now.”

MVUSD has given permission to the two companies to hold the combine at Murrieta Mesa, but it is not a district event and is open to athletes from all over the area. Space will be limited. The cost for athletes to do the combine is $50, which is a great price considering the typical price for a combine like this is twice that cost. In fact, usually these combines are just for football, so the fact that soccer and lacrosse are included is incredibly unique. When Zybek Sports held a similar combine in Orange County last year, the cost was $125.

Hamm and his team have even stepped up to foot the bill with most of their own money in order to help kids get seen for such a low cost, only charging for the facility, insurance, and supplies.

“My major message is to help kids and what I found is that if a student-athlete wants to continue playing he/she can,” says Hamm.

To register for the combine visit and to learn more about Zybek Sports, the official electronic timing partner of the NFL Combines, visit

JP Raineri can be reached by email at