February 25, 2011
At the 2011 scouting combine, about 30 players will be wearing clothing technology that allows those testing them through the various drills of the week to receive specific technical data about the players. The E-39 compression shirt is fitted with electronic touchpoints that send biofeedback via Bluetooth or to a computer or handheld device, and expands the specific awareness of what the body is doing during the drills.
For example, the touchpoints display not only heart rate, breathing and acceleration, but specific aspects of drills never measured before. The technology reveals horsepower during the 40-yard dash, telling coaches and scouts if the player's explosiveness matches his speed all the way through the 40-yard run. And the measurement of maximum Gs during a vertical jump indicate the value of a player's strength training.
The technology, adapted from the U.S. Special Forces and NASA, and could be a breakthrough on both sides of the evaluation spectrum. Players will now have their efforts better measured, and coaches and scouts will have a more accurate idea of what each player brings to the drills from a specific perspective. In addition, the horsepower ratings during the 40-yard dashes may eventually help evaluators adjust for fast tracks at Pro Days, getting a more consistent idea of how well a player runs.
Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and Alabama receiver Julio Jones are two of the players wearing the technology during their combine drills. "Under Armour has always been on the cutting-edge of innovation and performance," Jones said in a press release. "I experienced that first-hand when I played in the Under Armour All-America Game in 2008, and I have seen it continue with the E39 shirt."
Sensor technology could have all kinds of ramifications -- imagine helmets reading concussion data, and uniforms that tell coaches when players are starting to get gassed (perhaps falling below a specific target rate in a certain category) near the end of a game.
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