For players in North Carolina, South Johnston High in Four Oaks on March 23 is the first stop on a five-date tour ending at Washington High on June 1. Spartanburg High in South Carolina opens a series of Palmetto State combines in March.
Similar to other all-star game combines, players will be grouped by position and tested in the vertical jump, 40-yard dash, pro agility shuttle and bench press. They are asked to bring game film to the combine site for Shrine Bowl coaches to evaluate. Players may only attend one combine.
"The combines are essentially try-outs, but they're also designed to give players a chance to demonstrate what skills they possess against other top athletes," Hughes said. "They can grade themselves against other players and have stats from the combine on the record accessible to college coaches."
The Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas is one of the southeast's premiere all-star events and provides athletes with unmatched exposure to college coaches after the season. Combine results weigh heavily on the selection process as well as game film, early-season senior statistics and a player's character during in-person interviews with staff.
"I'd say less than 1 percent of players from North Carolina's 400 or so high schools are chosen, but anyone is eligible to participate and it gets a player's name and measurable out there," Hughes said. "It's not always based on test results at the combine. How players present themselves and attitude plays a large role. It's a great event for the guys that aren't selected too because of the exposure."
Robeson County's last Shrine Bowl representative was Lumberton's Jermaine Kesler in 2009. Kesler now plays at Division II national runner-up Winston-Salem State University.
The 77th Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas will be held in December at Gibbs Stadium on the campus of Wofford College. Selections for the 40-player roster — 39 position players and a kicker — are made in October.