How fast is fast?
You've heard the old adage – faster than lightning. Well, it's starting to seem that as football recruiting becomes more popular with fans, coaches and the players themselves, many of the recruits' 40-yard dash times have been going down quicker than the time it actually takes to run the sprint.
Last year's Rivals100.com recruiting database featured around 40 players that claimed to have run 40 times in the 4.3-second range. However, looking at the NFL Combine results for the past few years something doesn't seem to compute.
The average time for running backs at this spring's NFL Combine was 4.62 seconds. The receivers averaged 4.52 seconds and the corners averaged 4.57-second times.
So what gives?
How do these kids go from faster than lightning times in high school to slower times after college?
The answer is simple, one college coach said.
"The kids are lying and the people that time them also are doing it wrong," the coach from the SEC said.
"The recruits and the recruits parents are willing to do about anything to get attention, with the idea that if you run fast then you're going to get a lot of scholarship offers. But what they're really doing is bending the truth most of the time.
"And then you have players that go to these camps and combines that are run by people that aren't trained in timing players correctly. When you do that, you're for sure going to get inaccurate times. Even a lot of the high school coaches aren't accurate with their times. They're taught how to be football coaches, not track coaches."
But what about the times of kids that attend a school's summer camp?
It's definitely not uncommon for a player to come back with a great time from an event in June.
Another college coach from the Big 12 said it's common for a school to tell a recruit they covet that he ran a lower 40 time, in hopes that the excitement from that low time could make him see that school more favorably.
But not all schools do that.
Missouri had more than 500 kids participate in either their one-day camp or full-contact camp. Of the 500-plus players, only four players broke a 4.5-second time.
With that in mind, Rivals100 has worked with several college coaches and trainers to come up with a generic guideline that can be easily applied to help give a better idea on accurate 40-yard dash times.
As long as the player is normal in proportion and doesn't have shorter legs or isn't a long strider, then the following formula should be accurate 80 to 90 percent of the time.
100-meter time converted to 40-yard dash time
10.2 --- 4.34
10.3 --- 4.38
10.4 --- 4.43
10.5 --- 4.49
10.6 --- 4.54
10.7 --- 4.58
10.8 --- 4.63
10.9 --- 4.75
11.0 --- 4.85
What people tend to forget is that a 40-yard dash time of 4.5 or even 4.6 seconds is blistering fast.
"If you have a kid that runs a legit 4.5 then he's plenty fast enough to play Division I football," the coach from the SEC said. "That's still a very fast time - even for running backs."
Kansas City (Kan.) Schlagle coach Steve Szczygiel, who coached Maurice Greene in high school said his fastest 40-yard dash time was around 4.39 seconds.
And Greene is now the world's fastest human and was one of the greatest track stars coming out of high school.
So look for Rivals100.com to be more stringent about its 40 listings in the future. Gone are the days that will have tons of players listed with times that are hard to justify.
It's just another way that Rivals100 is working hard toward providing the fans with the ultimate and most accurate recruiting information around.