Thousands of high school football players from across the Southeast waited their turn as McEachern’s Walter Cantrell Stadium on Saturday to undergo combine- like testing. / John Bednarowski

POWDER SPRINGS -- Mike Weinstein is not much of a football fan.

But there he was sitting on the 50-yard line of McEachern's Cantrell Stadium on Saturday, surrounded by thousands of high school football players hoping to find themselves a college scholarship.

The setting has become commonplace for the mechanical engineer from Boulder, Colorado, but he doesn't look at what he does from a football perspective. What he does is provide people with information.

What they do with it from there is up to them.

For the last 20 years, Weinstein has owned his own business, and for much of the first handful of years, he was building industrial projects. That was until the U.S. Olympic Training Center contacted Weinstein with a request to build something that would more accurately measure a vertical jump. Piece by piece, Weinstein created better measurable tools for the Olympic Training Center, and it led to what he is doing now.

Weinstein has created the athlete's equivalent to the SAT. However, this is SAT is Standardized Athlete Testing, and it is trademarked by Weinstein's company, Zybek Sports. His testing system was the centerpiece of Saturday's Rivals adizero Combine.

"This isn't going to tell you who the next Heisman Trophy winner is going to be," Weinstein said, "but what it does is it gives the athlete something. Information that they can use to improve."

Weinstein and Zybek Sports' electronic laser-timing system has become the go-to for digital combine results. They have provided results for the NFL Combine the last nine years, while also running university pro days -- like they did this spring at Oklahoma -- or specially requested testing as they performed at Michigan.

For Saturday's combine at McEachern, nearly 4,700 athletes from all over the Southeast signed up for testing. Weinstein said the Atlanta event is always the largest of the 14 they do around the country each spring. By noon, more than 1,700 had already been processed, with thousands of others broken into groups and still waiting for their opportunity.

The athletes, primarily from the graduating classes of 2020 through 2023, were tested in the same drills used at the NFL Combine -- the 40-yard dash, shuttle run, vertical three-cone drill and broad jump. Everything is recorded digitally and the information is broken down with the idea of showing what the athlete can work on to get better.

Weinstein said, from this combine alone, more than 30,000 data points would be recorded.

"We measure the 40-yard dash," he said, "but it is broken down into 10-yard, 20-yard and 40-yard splits. It compares how the athlete performed against the others in his position group." 

One athlete's progression in the 40 showed he ranked 19th 249 at the 10-yard split, 12th of 249 at the 20-yard split and ninth of 249 at the finish.

"It shows that he is one of the fastest players in his group," Weinstein said, "but everyone can improve. What it shows is he may want to work on his starts, because it literally means he was passing people all the way to the end."

It could be the difference between a receiver getting off the line of scrimmage, gaining separation and getting open, versus a defensive back being able to be in position to defend a throw.

No college coaches are allowed at the combine, and Weinstein said he shares the data with only the athletes and their parents. If the athlete has a good performance, they are free to publish it on social media and send it to potential recruiters.

However, there are times where the results are eye-opening, especially to those parents who think they have a future first-round draft pick. Especially those who tell him about how their son ran a 4.3 40.

Weinstein said he just shakes his head.

"If they are running a 4.3 40, they are the fastest running back in the NFL," Weinstein said. "When they run here, they are going to be slower."

It is the difference between the digital results and a human holding a stop watch, which can be anywhere from two-tenths to four-tenths of a second off, depending on the person hitting the start-stop button.

McEachern defensive lineman Jake Ayers was one of the many players who were tested Saturday. A member of the Indians' junior varsity team last fall, the 5-foot-10, 209-pound sophomore said he had run the 40 previously, turning in unofficial times of 5.1 and 5.2.

"As a young player, I wanted to get my numbers, so I know what I need to work on," Ayers said before undergoing his tests Saturday. "I'm not going to be upset with the results. I lost a little weight to get ready for this. I expect to run the 40 in the 5.3 range."

Ayers' actual time?

"I ran a 5.6," he said afterward.

Ayers said he was a little surprised, even though he knew he may be timed slower. In the end, however he got the information he wanted.

"I have to work on my speed and the explosion in my hips," Ayers said.

Overall, though, Ayers was pleased with the combine experience, and he is ready to use what he learned to get better.

That is why Weinstein does what he does.

"We can provide an expanded report," he said. "We're trying to educate the community, because players aren't just competing here against others from Georgia. They are competing against everyone across the country.

"The more information they have, the better they will be."

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