Nike Inc. aims to give high school football players everywhere a leg up on the competition. The athletic powerhouse has unveiled a new mobile app to help young athletes improve their performance — and vie for a spot in the company’s annual Nike Football The Opening program.
Last year, just 166 elite players from around the country were selected from a pool of 17,000 to visit Nike’s Beaverton, Ore., headquarters in July to learn from the best in the game, including pro athletes Ndamukong Suh, Manti Te’o, Coby Fleener, Victor Cruz and Trent Williams. The players also competed in a seven-on-seven tournament, the Nike Elite Linemen Challenge and the Elite 11 quarterback competition, in hopes of catching the eye of top college scouts and coaches.
They were outfitted in the latest Nike gear, including its Vapor Untouchable cleats, which just got a sleek new update.
Now, even more athletes have a shot at stardom. The new Hudl Combine mobile app, available for download now, was created by Nike and Hudl, the Agile Sports Technologies-owned company that helps coaches and athletes share game footage. It features a Nike Football Rating, which, after 2016, becomes a player’s ticket to The Opening.
Using their smartphone, athletes can conduct and record combine tests such as the 40-yard dash, agility shuttle, a standing vertical and power-ball toss or a bench press. Their scores will be verified by Hudl representatives and then aggregated to determine a Nike Football Rating. The best ratings will appear on national leaderboards, with the top performers earning an invitation to The Opening.
Nike launched The Opening program in 2007. Over the years, it has hosted and trained many of the top athletes in college and pro football, whether at the finals in Oregon or through its series of 19 nationwide tour stops, during which Nike hosts football combines and regional competitions.
The athletic company estimates that in 2014, 125 of the 254 players drafted to the NFL had attended one of its camps or combines. And each fall, about 762 players on active NFL rosters have Nike event experience.