ARLINGTON, Texas — How tough, how skilled and athletic are our U.S. troops?
Based on results from trials at the inaugural Military Combine hosted by the Dallas Cowboys and Caliber Collision on Feb. 25, today’s soldiers stack up very competitively against NFL pros.
The finals of the Military Combine were held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Fifty elite soldier athletes from Fort Hood competed for bragging rights at the event, which was organized to honor our nation’s military heroes.
Competing in the same drills as those in the NFL Combine, some of the soldiers’ impressive stats from the Military Combine trials, held in November 2016 at Ford Hood, include:
Ethan Roulston with a 34-inch vertical jump, compared to 33-½-inch by Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott at the 2016 NFL Combine.
Daquarius Dawkins with a 33 ½ inch vertical, tying the mark set by Cowboys defensive back Orlando Scandrick during the 2008 NFL combine.
Shonta Tucker’s 7-foot broad jump nearly matched the 8-foot mark by Houston Texans’ Nick Martin at the 2016 NFL Combine.
“This Military Combine allows me to show the skills I learned as a soldier,” said Tucker, 41, a mother of five. “We are trained to be the strongest, standing ready to go to the enemy lines at any time to fight for our country. I am proud to represent my unit, serve in a leadership role and show a commitment to work hard, push ourselves to excel in anything we do, whether physical fitness or in our work.”
The two-hour Military Combine finals competition was conducted by Dallas Cowboys personnel. According to Terrence Wheatley, Dallas Cowboys Camps Manager, each soldier competed in seven events: 40 yard dash, short shuttle, “L” Drill, 300 yard shuttle, vertical jump, broad jump and 2-minute pushup test.
“Our military personnel represent the very best in leadership, dedication and athletic ability. I fully expect several competitors to put up numbers that will be in the top 10 at this year’s NFL Combine. These soldiers are legit athletes and I am excited to see them compete,” said Wheatley.
The top female and top male winner at the Military Combine will have the honor of announcing the Cowboys 2017 draft pick in April. The top male finisher was Spc. Tavon Johnson and top female was Tucker, a sergeant first class with Company A, Warrior Transition Unit.
“You don’t understand the joy — I feel blessed being able to go out and represent my unit and Fort Hood,” Tucker said. “My husband and my kids were always on me to get better. (My kids) were my biggest critics, because they’re in track. They would say, ‘Mom, you have to get faster.’”
Fort Hood Garrison Commander Col. Todd Fox said the Military Combine was an exciting event for the soldiers and their families.
“Soldiers are very motivated to do their best and have bragging rights on how they did when compared to the professional football athletes. Fort Hood is very appreciative of the Dallas Cowboys and Caliber Collision for their initiative to create and execute this unique event as well as their continuing support and recognition of the service of our men and women in the Army,” he said.
Attendees of the free event had the opportunity to enjoy access to the AT&T Stadium Field for family friendly activities, meet and get autographs from Dallas Cowboys alumni, meet and greet the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, entertainment and photo ops with Rowdy and the unveiling and presentation of three cars to Fort Hood soldiers in need of reliable transportation. The vehicles are donated by State Farm and refurbished by Caliber Collision as part of its Recycled Rides program.
“These soldiers competing in the Military Combine exemplify the high caliber of individuals who have made the commitment to serve our country,” said Steve Grimshaw, president and CEO of Caliber Collision. “Our goal with the Military Combine is to salute and celebrate the men and women who represent our country and give so much to protect our freedoms.”
The Herald’s David A. Bryant contributed to this report.