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Blackmon / Rowley Combine Gets RI Gridiron Athletes Noticed

Kyle Rowley and Will Blackmon (left to right) at 2018 Combine
Kyle Rowley and Will Blackmon (left to right) at 2018 Combine

Carl Greene doesn’t hesitate – not even for a second – when asked if he would recommend the upcoming Blackmon/Rowley Combine Camp to high school football players in Rhode Island who are looking to work on their skills and ultimately get recruited.

“100 percent. I would absolutely tell everyone to go. Attending the combine helped me 100 percent,” said Greene, 5 ‘9″, 188 pound corner/DB who will attend the University of Rhode Island in the fall.

A recent graduate of Bishop Hendricken where he excelled in track and football, Greene participated in the inaugural Blackmon/Rowley Combine last July.

“The top football players in RI were all there. The combine gave me a chance to compete against the best athletes in RI,” said Greene.

The combine also gave Greene a chance to show off his skills in front of Blackmon, a 12 year-NFL veteran, who, like Greene, is a corner/DB. Blackmon, a former All American at Hendricken, played his high school career on the same field as Greene.

“Will came from RI and he played where we all dream to play…in the NFl,” said Greene. “Will doesn’t just show up for the combine. He is hands-on,” said Greene. “He’s out there the whole combine working with everyone, teaching them different things. If you don’t know something or mess up he’s going to call you out and make you better. I learned a lot from him and his coaching staff. It was a great opportunity to learn from the best.”

Since it the combine wasn’t held during a live period, Division I coaches weren’t allowed to attend. But Kyle Rowley, a 14 year veteran of the Arena Football League (AFL) who runs the combine with Blackmon, insists that does not matter.

“Will and I both played Division I. So did all of our stff. BC. Brown. Michigan. URI. Bryant. Indiana. We are all one phone call away from connecting with the top college coaches in the country,” said Rowley.

Greene agreed.

Combine Attendee Carl Greene
Combine Attendee Carl Greene

“It doesn’t matter what colleges are at the combine. All the guys on the coaching staff know someone who knows someone,” said Greene.. “And you can take your combine stats and include them on your recruiting resume. That’s what I did. “

Greene’s impressive recruiting resume, which included his Blackmon/Rowley Combine results, led to an offer from the University of Rhode Island. He accepted a partial scholarship and will play for the Rams in the fall.

Greene is one of several who participated in the inaugural Blackmon/Rowley Combine last summer who will continue their football career at the college level this fall.

Blackmon and Rowley have accomplished their mission.

A year ago, Blackmon and Rowley set a goal to host an event in RI that would provide an opportunity for the area’s top high school football players to test and show off their skills in front of former NFL and top Division I college players and current college coaches. The opportunity would ultimately provide a vehicle for the players to get noticed and recruited.

Will Blackmon working with Combine Attendee
Will Blackmon working with Combine Attendee

Neither Blackmon nor Rowley had that opportunity when they played football in RI.

In fact, Blackmon , a former All American at Bishop Hendricken would travel up and down the East Coast with his dad Wayne Blackmon so that Will could attend combines, get noticed and ultimately get recruited. There were no opportunities to showcase his talents locally in RI.

“We spent a lot of time in the car,” said Wayne, a single parent caring for six children at the time. “After Will was named the MVP of the Boston College camp, he said ‘Dad, I was just invited to a combine at Syracuse. As much as I dreaded the drive to Syracuse, we got back in the car and headed to New York. I just wanted Will to have the opportunity to get noticed. I wasn’t even thinking about the NFL at the time. I was just hoping college coaches would see him and maybe he’d get a scholarship.”

The road trips paid off. Will went on to have a stellar career at Boston College and later, in the NFL. Blackmon spent nearly a dozen years in the NFL. He played for the Washington Redskins, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars and earned a Super Bowl ring with the NY Giants.

He often thought about his high school road trips to various combines and made it his goal to host a combine in RI and create opportunities for high school players to be seen by college and pro scouts.

So last summer, he teamed up with Rowley, the former two-time All-Stater at Hendricken and quarterback at Brown, who spent 14 years playing professionally in the Arena Football League. Rowley won two national championships with the Spokane Shock. A two-time MVP, Rowley broke the All-Time Single Game Touchdown Record (12 TDs) and the All-Time Arena Bowl Touchdown Record (10 TDs).

The two accomplished their goal. More than 100 of the top players in RI participated in Blackmon/Rowley Combine Camp and had a chance to showcase their talents and work on their skills with an experienced staff

Rowley said there is plenty of talent in Rhode Island. Players just needed a place to showcase their talent and an opportunity to work with many who have played at pro and highest college levet. He and Blackmon are thrilled they are able to provide that opportunity.

Greene was one of several who took advantage of this opportunity, impressed college coaches and ultimately earned the chance to play at the next level.

The second annual Blackmon/Rowley Combine Camp is July 7 at Bishop Hendricken, Blackmon and Rowley’s alma mater. This year’s experienced camp staff will be comprised of many former RI standouts including one of the top college players in the country, Michigan’s Kwity Paye (Hendricken), Jordan Monk (St. Raphael/North Carolina State), Robert Sewall (Portsmouth/Brown, NFL) and Matt Sewall (Portsmouth/Bryant). Several of Blackmon’s former BC teammates will also be in attendance.

2018 Combine Attendee
2018 Combine Attendee

Tyler Pezza, a wide receiver who will enter his junior year at North Kingstown, will compete his first Blackmon/Rowley Combine.

“I’m looking forward to learning from Will Blackmon and Kyle Rowley, along with the other former NFL and Division I College players and coaches,” said Pezza. “I am hoping to learn more drills, styles and tactics to improve my skills for the upcoming season. I am especially interested in improving my moves in getting off the line of scrimmage, my route-running skills, and moves to help me get open on my routes. It will be great to have the opportunity to learn about these things from these players and coaches.

“I’m also looking forward to competing in front of college coaches, which will hopefully help me get recruited someday. This combine will help me in all of these areas,” said Pezza

“With our experiences as D-1 college and pro football players, we have collected plenty of resources and knowledge to bring something great to help out our own football players in Rhode Island get noticed,” said Blackmon. “We want kids in RI to get noticed and prove that they have what it takes to compete.”

Greene certainly proved that last summer and encourages others to do so on July 7 at Hendricken.

“Go to the combine and compete. Match yourself with the best of the best competition in the state. If you don’t go you’re missing out,” said Greene.

To register for the Blackmon/Rowley Combine Camp on July 7 visit: rowleyqbs.com

The combine comes on the heels of the free youth football camp held by Blackmon on July 6 at Hendricken. The fifth annual Will Blackmon Football camp, open to youth 7- to 14-years-old, is designed to introduce youth to football by teaching basic skills in a fun and energetic environment. Free for participants, the camp is supported through a grant from the NFL Foundation.

“It’s important to me to give back to the community and offer this camp for kids who may not otherwise have the opportunity to participate,” Blackmon said.

To register for the Will Blackmon free youth camp on July 6 visit: rowleyqbs.com