Kansas high school football players who have dreams of continuing their gridiron careers to the next level can find a resource in a former Sunflower state star who has excelled at every level of the game, including high school, college and the NFL.
Mark Simoneau is a former high school star from Smith Center who played in the 1995 Kansas Shrine Bowl. He starred at Kansas State University where he earned consensus All-American honors in 1999 as a linebacker, then had a 10-year career in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs.
He won a Super Bowl ring as a member of the Saints in 2010 before retiring as a member of the Chiefs later that year. Simoneau founded a company to help athletes become stronger and faster.
Simoneau Sports Performance, based in Overland Park, will conduct an NFL-style combine at this year’s Kansas Shrine Bowl, sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He said the combine will give high school players a chance to measure their athletic skills against other players in the state.
“We’ll put them through a battery of tests,” he said, “including a 40-yard dash, broad jump and vertical jump. It gives us a baseline to compare different athletes and their abilities athletically. It doesn’t have so much to do with football, but just how someone compares as an athlete.”
The data collected will similar data that is collected at the NFL combine held each spring in Indianapolis, Ind.
“From a testing standpoint, it will be very similar to what they do there,” he said. “There are a lot of other things they do at the NFL combine, but in terms of physical testing, ours will be very similar.”
The data will go out to college coaches around the state.
“Everyone will have access to a kid’s performance numbers,” Simoneau said. “Progress over time can be measured, so if he’s a younger kid, a freshman, he’ll the get the opportunity to do it next year and see how he’s progressing from year to year. It’s a good measuring stick for them to see where they’re at and where they want to be.”
The combine will be held on the same day as the Kansas Shrine Bowl, July 27, at Yager Stadium at Washburn University in Topeka.
Simoneau says the field and other Washburn facilities are “top of the line”, including the field surface.
“It’s definitely a great facility,” he said.
Detailed information and application forms can be found on the Kansas Shrine Bowl web site www.kansasshrinebowl.com.
Simoneau said his company plans to move into a new facility this month.
“We’ve been in business for almost two-and-a-half years,” he said. “We’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of good kids trying to help them develop and become the best players they can be. We do some skill training, mostly for football, but if you want to run faster or jump higher or be stronger, those are the kinds of things we’re really trying to improve on.
If you’re a baseball player, we’re not going to work on your ability to pitch, but we’ll help you be stronger and that will allow you to do what your coaches are talking about.”