Grafton’s Obi Melifonwu is ready for his NFL Draft moment

With the NFL Draft beginning Thursday night, Grafton native Obi Melifonwu sits just days away from realizing a lifetime goal.

Yet, while the 6-foot-4 safety has been working most of his life to be an NFL player, his name became familiar to casual fans less than two months ago.

Melifonwu’s arrival on the national scene came at the annual NFL Combine, where he stunned uninitiated fans and scouts by posting amazing workout numbers across the board, including a 4.40-second 40-yard dash, and Combine-best results in both the vertical jump (44 inches) and broad jump (11 feet, 9 inches).

“I’m not really amazed. I knew going [into the Combine] what I could do,” Melifonwu said with a chuckle. “I think other people were amazed by the numbers, especially people that weren’t familiar with me, but not anybody who has ever coached me or played with me.”

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Are you ready for some lacrosse? Read this and you will be

While we have endured a late snowstorm and a windy, damp and generally uncooperative beginning to the season, it’s still spring in the Heart of the Commonwealth, and that means lacrosse is underway for several high school teams in and around Worcester.

As the sport continues to grow nationwide — from about 250,000 players in 2001 to more than 800,000 in 2015, per US Lacrosse — it is expanding at an exponential rate in Central Massachusetts, where every year there seems to be a new team, new youth program, or a long-suffering squad that breaks through to the tournament.

This year will likely be no different, as Auburn — a school traditionally with more than its fair share of standout athletes — begins its first year as a varsity program, and a number of other local teams gear up for what they hope to be successful seasons.

Teams to Watch

St. John’s

The Pioneers are always among the favorites in Central Mass., but this year’s St. John’s team could be on the verge of something truly special. This power program hasn’t been to the state championship game since 2009, but there’s some buzz that this year’s group, with its blend of experience and raw talent, could get back to the promised land.

Kevin Mensah looks to end whirlwind year with scholarship

Hopes remain high that a match with a top collegiate program — maybe nearby? — could be on the horizon for one of the area’s most talented football players as Signing Day nears. Joe Parello has the story.

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