Published July 31. 2013 4:00AM
Josiah Shumaker is one in 500 ... and that's a good thing.
Shumaker, a Ledyard High School running back, is one of 500 high school underclassmen chosen to participate in the 2014 U.S. Army National Combine as part of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 3-5, 2014, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Shumaker was selected to participate after his performances at two Football University camps this summer, the second of which was held in Dublin, Ohio. He's one of five Connecticut players chosen.
"He was out there with kids from Texas, California, from his own age group," said Joe Bouffard, vice president of marketing & communications for All-American games, which runs the camps. "After evaluating him on the field, both my myself and our talent evaluators, and coach (Marc) Logan's recommendation, he was one of the best (running back). You couldn't miss it."
"I was excited," Shumaker said of the invite. "My performance when I was out there, I think I should've gotten nominated for it, honestly. Now I'm just looking forward to going down there and competing at an even higher level."
James Clanton, Shumaker's father, told him about combines. He went to one at Westhill High in Stamford in late June, which earned him an invitation to the Top Gun camp in Ohio.
"I just went into (the Stamford camp) thinking I might be able to get to Top Gun," Shumaker said. "I wasn't expecting to get nominated to go to the combine in San Antonio. I knew I just had to go hard every single play."
Former NFL players Lamont Jordan, Lorenzo Neal and Logan were among Shumaker's coaches at Top Gun.
"They focused a lot on technique and fundamentals," Shumaker said. "One of them told me that once you go up against a kid that's your strength and your speed, it's going to come down to who has better technique and who's more smart on the field.
"You went into a classroom and studied film, routes, the little things that you have to do. … It was a good experience. I want to go back next year."
Football University employs coaches and players with NFL experience to teach both on-and-off the field. The National Combine is run like the NFL's Combine.
Bouffard has a soft spot for Connecticut football. He was born and raised in Danbury, played at Immaculate High and was an assistant at New Canaan and Fairfield Warde.
"I'm going to be an advocate for kids in Connecticut," Bouffard said. "Various friends and colleagues of mine in California, Texas, and Florida are always bragging about what great kids they have. We've got some great kids, too.
"Being a small state, we don't get as much recognition as some of the bigger states, but there's still some great football players here."
Linemen Tanner Kern (Xavier) and Malcolm Robinson (Bridgeport Central), linebacker B.J. Buckle (St. Luke's of New Canaan), and receiver Tyler McMillian (Brunswick of Greenwich) were also invited.
A good performance at the Combine could get a player invited to the 2015 All-American Bowl. The event has been televised live on NBC and featured the likes of Andrew Luck, Adrian Peterson and Tim Tebow.
"Next year, I want to play in the Army All-American Bowl game," Shumaker said. "but I've got to work hard this summer. Next summer, I think I might be able to get there."