Pair of Lathrop football players display talents at recruiting showcase

Published: Dec. 21, 2020 at 8:04 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The high school football season in Alaska is short and the distance to get attention from college programs is long. That combination is why two of Lathrop High School’s standout players jumped at the chance to advertise their skills and athleticism at the Avery Strong Showcase in Anchorage this past weekend.

Jarren Littell and Keegan Laughlin were two of about 70 college football hopefuls that attended the two-day, combine-like showcase that made its first appearance in Alaska. Avery Strong Showcases have been held across the nation, led Brandon Huffman of 247 Sports, where recruits can have their evolutions charted on the website. The showcases’ Twitter account announced the camp on November 11 and word around the football community spread quickly.

“When I saw on Twitter that it was coming to Alaska, I talked to my dad and we immediately decided that we needed to go,” said Littell, Lathrop’s starting quarterback. “Especially here in Fairbanks, we don’t have that many opportunities, we just try to take an opportunity and make the best of it whenever it is possible.”

On day one of the showcase at Fox Hollow Sports Dome, where Huffman and other coaches were in attendance, masked players were separated into pods based on position. Each player went through a series of measurements, drills and SAQ tests (speed, agility and quickness).

“I was quick, I got to showcase my speed [which was great] because quarterbacks don’t really get to do that a lot,” Littell added.

The junior gunslinger was not the only one that impressed at the combine. Laughlin, who worked out with the tight ends and linebackers, turned some heads in the shuttle drill.

“I did it 4.2 seconds, which stunned the coaches, they looked at me like, ‘wow’,” said Laughlin, who was listed at 5′11″, 240 pounds his junior season. “Given my size, I am a bigger dude, so they weren’t expected that much out of me but I have been training hard.”

On day two, athletes competed in drills tailored to their specific positions. With prospects from Anchorage, Matanuska-Susitna Valley and Juneau, there was no shortage of talent.

There is not much of an offseason for the life of recruits. The high school season ended months ago and although games were played, the seasons were cut short and practices were limited. For football players in Alaska, this would typically be an opportunity only provided out-of-state, which is why Laughlin wanted to take advantage.

“I was like, ‘I got to be down there, I can’t miss this’. Being in Fairbanks, Alaska it is hard to get recruited anyway, so I figured I’d go down, play against some of the better talent Alaska, play in front of the big stage against those really good guys,” said Laughlin. “I wanted to kind of prove myself and prove that Fairbanks has some dogs, you know?”

Battling injuries for much of the year, Laughlin was named an All-Interior Team honorable mention as a linebacker, while displaying good hands and quality blocking as a tight end. Littell was the man behind center for the Malemutes, highlighting leadership skills and deep ball ability at the quarterback position. His performance led to a All-Interior 2nd Team nod.

“I think the main thing I am going to take away is I need to keep working,” said Littell. “I got to see where I stack up against everyone else and now I am going to take advantage of that opportunity and hit the gym with my teammates and we are going to try to become the best we can be and of course, try to be the best in the state.”

“There is always going to be somebody better than you, a little bit more athletic than you, more talented than you,” said Laughlin of what he learned at the showcase. “I need to get better as a player mentally and physically, so there was a lot of good points there that I honed in on.” he added.

Littell and Laughlin, who connected on a few passes as a quarterback-tight end combo, will prepare for the senior seasons in the fall of 2021.

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