By Jake Hamilton
CAMBRIDGE- College scouts from across the nation convened in West Cambridge Tuesday night to attend the Buckingham Browne and Nichols football showcase. Programs representing the ACC, BIG 12, BIG 10, SEC, Ivy League, and NESCACs gathered to see 23 BB&N players show their skills and ability under the lights.
According to one college scout, showcases like these are just the tip of the recruiting iceberg.
“We’re just getting a first look at some of these guys,” he said. The scout continued, noting the importance of tapping into the pipeline of talent early on at a particular school or region to better prepare for future recruitment classes.
The practice began with warmups and stretching before quarterback Henry Machnik (’24) took the receiving corps to the field to start the throwing portion of the workout. There, WR/S AJ Azuakolam (’26) put on a show, showing his diverse route tree as well as his ability to track the ball deep down the field. And despite all the eyes on him and his teammates from college representatives, Azuakolam kept a cool head during the showcase.
“It just felt like practicing. I’m new to this. A lot of the guys told me, ‘Keep your head on. Play like you would play in a game. Keep everything tight,'” he said. “It just felt great.”
Overheard among the chatter during the throwing session was one prominent Massachusetts college football program commenting on the strength of the BB&N receivers in the group. And also showing out on Tuesday was fellow wide receiver Ellis Barnes (’26). Though a different build than Azuakolam, who profiles more as a true-X receiver, Barnes displayed impressive versatility and legitimate slot potential.
“I’ve never seen that many coaches in one area before,” Barnes started with a grin. “But it was fun getting back out there.”
But Barnes, always thinking about improvement, knows he still could have showcased more of his game during the brief practice.
“I think if I could have changed anything; I would have wanted to get more high points. I had a few bobbles there, but I liked a couple of my deep routes,” Barnes said.
When asked which school he was most excited to see at the showcase, Barnes laughed, “Definitely, Michigan. I mean, that’s a top-five college in the country! So that was a big shocker.”
Barnes and Azuakolam, however, were not the only ones on the field who showed out on the big stage. Defensive lineman Xzavier Chaffin (’28) and OL/DL Nate Bodden (’25) had very strong nights.
Chaffin, the youngest of the players competing, looked as smooth in pass-rushing drills and techniques as anyone else on the field, something not lost on the scouts. Similarly, Bodden played with as high a motor as anyone on the field, keeping his legs churning after the whistle. A scout commended his athleticism and ability to explode off the line.
The practice concluded with all the BB&N Knights players breaking it down in the huddle, with each player doing their recruiting stock a lot of good in front of some of the most premium college football programs. And if college scouts are looking to build a pipeline in the New England region, BB&N would be a good place to start.