Making the jump? Study quantifies differences between high school, college players

· 2 min read

Making the jump? Study quantifies differences between high school, college players
Pocket Science: Exploring the 'What,' 'So what' and 'Now what' of Husker research

Craig Chandler | University Communication

Welcome to Pocket Science: a glimpse at recent research from Husker scientists and engineers. For those who want to quickly learn the “What,” “So what” and “Now what” of Husker research.



Elite college football players receive invites to the NFL Scouting Combine, a series of physical and psychological assessments that provide teams with data ahead of the NFL Draft.

The combine measures stature in the form of height and weight; speed via 10-, 20- and 40-yard dashes; agility through two quick-twitch movement drills; and power via a standing vertical jump and broad jump.

So what?

Some promising high school players participate in similar combines. Though college counterparts presumably perform better, little research has investigated the magnitude of improvement. So the lab of Nebraska’s Joel Cramer compared 3,666 high schoolers against 5,537 college seniors.

Substantial differences emerged in the vertical jump and weight, with college players jumping 15-25 percent higher and weighing 14-19 percent more. The study revealed moderate gains in the broad jump, the three dashes and the L-cone drill, whereas relatively small differences were found in the pro-agility drill and height.

Approximate differences between a sample of high school and college football players on a series of combine tests. Each yard line represents a percent. (Click to zoom)

But all differences were consistent across position groups: Offensive linemen gained roughly as much proportional speed as defensive backs, quarterbacks added about as much proportional weight as defensive linemen, and so on.

Now what?

Training regimens that increase vertical jumps and muscle mass may improve the prospects of high school players, Cramer said.