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Shufford invited to U.S. Army combine

McKenzie junior Chris Shufford is headed to San Antonio for the second year in a row to participate in the U.S. Army National Combine.

McKenzie junior Chris Shufford is headed to San Antonio for the second year in a row to participate in the U.S. Army National Combine.

One of McKenzie’s top athletes is San Antonio-bound once again after earning an elite invite to the U.S. Army National Combine, set for Friday.

Shufford is one of 600 of the nation’s top underclassmen who will gather for the time-honored tradition of participating in the combine prior to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl that next day.

The combine is the first opportunity for the nation’s top underclassmen to square off against each other before high school and college’s top scouting organizations, including 247Sports, XOS Digital and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Selection Committee.

Shufford isn’t a stranger to the combine, however.  He has participated in numerous camps around the Southeast for the past three years, including camps in the neighboring states of Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.

But his previous experiences with the camps, including his recognition as a Top Gun athlete that earned him a previous trip to San Antonio’s combine, haven’t dulled his excitement in the slightest.

The visit is mostly a business affair, but the five-day trip also affords a number of sightseeing opportunities.

“San Antonio is a pretty nice sight,” Shufford said.

“You see a bunch of different things, like the River Walk and the mall, so it’s really cool.”

But the bulk of Shufford’s time will be spent on tackling the titular combine, a test of speed, strength, quickness and football skill.

The combine acts primarily as a means for college scouts and coaches to evaluate an athlete’s abilities, but it doubles as an educational experience.

Seminars that touch on the recruitment process, speed and strength improvement and leadership are also offered.

Shufford will have to balance those responsibilities alongside his schoolwork, since the combine will take him away from the halls of McKenzie for three days.

Though the balancing act doesn’t faze Shufford, he will regret missing a game as a member of the Tigers varsity basketball team.

“I’m only going to miss one game—that’s the good thing,” Shufford said.

“But I don’t like missing games, so it kind of sucks.”

Though last year’s combine experience was a positive one overall, he’s looking forward to an even better one in 2016.  In addition to meeting top-level talent from around the nation, the combine also affords Shufford the chance to meet a number of influential people, including former NFL coaches and players.

Though the junior’s college plans are still forming, it’s a thought that he gives more and more attention as time goes on.

“I’ve been thinking a bunch about college,” Shufford said.

“I’m just really trying to get into a Division I program, show them my talent and hopefully get a starting position.  I’m looking forward to trying to get into an SEC school.”