AFL Combine Day 1

The first day of the inaugural AFL USA Combine has been branded a success, with six elite American college athletes breaking Nic Naitanui's standing vertical-leap record.

Held in Los Angeles, the three-day combine is testing 26 college athletes with basketball and NFL football backgrounds. Two will be selected to attend October's NAB AFL Draft Combine at Etihad Stadium. 

Naitanui jumped 78cm at the 2008 NAB AFL Draft Combine as an 18-year-old. The American athletes are older, aged between 23-24, but outdid the West Coast Eagles ruckman. 

Derrel Acrey, a college footballer from Boise State, was most impressive jumping 90cm. 

Emmanuel Moody, from Florida, was next best with a standing vertical jump of 85cm. Cliff Ederaine (82cm), Scottie Farrington (82), Spencer Perrin (81) and Quinn Porter (81) also surpassed Naitanui's leap.

Interestingly, Acrey, Porter and Moody are the only three athletes at the combine under 190cm as the AFL targets ruckmen.

Sprinting and agility tests were also conducted, but AFL international development manager Tony Woods said bettering the efforts of Naitanui was an indication of the talent available.  

"It's a real benchmark and we were hopeful coming into the combine that it would happen. It gives us a lot of confidence that we're on the right path with these combines" Woods told

Woods said the opening day had seen "four or five" athletes firm as the most likely to challenge for the two spots available at the AFL combine but that a series of tests on day two would give them a better idea of how they will cope with the Australian game.

A 'beep test' shuttle run will gauge endurance levels, a session on an open field will record the athletes' ability to kick over distance, and they will be measured on how they run, jump and catch the ball.

"From there, it's likely the two candidates will basically pick themselves" Woods said.

Woods said although the athletes had little knowledge of the Australian game they were presented with an introduction to the sport earlier this week and had surprised with their level of professionalism.

Although coming from a low base of understanding of the AFL the 26 candidates were identified for their height and the way they played their chosen sport.

Woods is encouraged by what he's seen so far.

"Essentially the brief was that we wanted guys who were exceptional athletes, who were tall, and the nature of the way they played basketball suggested they were open to physical contact," Woods said.

"What was really exciting was when we got the balls out and put them in their hands for the first time, they really adapted pretty quickly."

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