Going to Cali
Kody Palladino doesn’t know who thought he should be participating in the Blue-Grey High School Football Scouting Combines, but the soon-to-be Milford High School junior sure is happy whoever it was did.
About a month ago, Palladino received a letter from Blue-Grey inviting him to participate in the New England Regional Combine at Assumption College in Worcester. In order to get invited, someone had to nominate Palladino, and he has no idea who it was.
In early June, along with about 50 other football players from the region – and only one other from New Hampshire – Palladino participated in the combine, which consisted of the 40-yard dash, bench press, broad and vertical jumps and shuttle run.
While he held his own in the other events, Palladino had the second highest performance on the bench, lifting 185 pounds 14 times.
“It was a good experience,” he said. “I saw a lot of good athletes there. It was weird getting tested in the broad jump and the vertical jump, just stuff I’m not really used to. I was definitely nervous. I’d never been to a combine before that.”
At the end of the day, the athletes were informed that the best performers would be moving on to compete in one of the four super combines. Two weeks after that, Palladino was informed he’d be one of those athletes, as he received an invitation to compete in the West Super Combine, held at the College of San Mateo (Calif.) on July 13.
“It’s awesome,” Palladino said. “Tons of college coaches, from everywhere probably, I’m assuming. It’s always been a dream of mine to play college football. Everyone has always told me that if I work hard enough, I can get there. That’s what I’m doing, working my butt off.”
Palladino will be traveling with his older brother, Trevor, who also played football and basketball at Milford and has been helping to train Kody on and off the field.
“I was proud,” Trevor
Palladino said. “He’s come a long way. Everything he’s got, he’s earned because of his dedication. He’s in here working out, he’s here Friday nights running the track, not out with friends. He’s here before school in weight room.
“He maintains his grades. I try to tell him, learn from my mistakes. I was a good player, but I goofed off in the classroom. I have to pass it down.”
With a 10-year gap between them, Kody began playing football at the age of 8, around the same time Trevor’s football days were wrapping up. But because of his size, Kody had to play up an age group, putting him on the same Amherst Patriots teams as Trevor Knight and Jesse Claus, two recent Nashua High School South graduates.
“He always had to play up because he was heavier and wasn’t always a standout in Pop Warner and stuff like that,” Trevor said. “He kind of took a back seat. We always told him to stick it out, you’ll find your spot and we’ll get in the weight room and we’ll start training. He was going to grow. We’ve got a big family. He’s still growing.”
That’s still something Trevor reminds him, especially after the performance at the combine. Kody started on the offensive and defensive lines as a sophomore for Milford last fall, and at the New England Combine, he was just one of six athletes from the class of 2016.
“I keep having to remind him that he’s only 16,” Trevor said. “He’s going in there with seniors who are 18 years old and they’ve got more strength on him because they’ve got two years.”
Kody hopes that any disadvantage that might present itself now gives him a leg up on other prospects from his own age group.
“It’s a big difference, because I’m ahead of a lot kids right now,” he said. “I know I’m going to have a lot more competition this time around, a lot more kids like me. I’ll do my best.”