3.10.17

A Student-Journalist’s Perspective: Behind The Scenes At Football’s Premier Scouting Event

By: Austin Krueger

Since I became a fan of the National Football League, attending football’s premier scouting event has topped my bucket list of events. Like many, my hopes of playing at the pro level have come and gone, but this past week, Eastbay provided me with the opportunity to realize a childhood dream.

Eastbay invited me to be a guest blogger representing them at the event, where I was given the opportunity to meet a plethora of college athletes and pick their brains about their personalities, college, and the goals they hope to achieve at the next level.

Despite not being able to post the fastest 40-yard dash time, the behind-the-scenes interaction I experienced with the Eastbay crew, the athletes, and my fellow guest blogger is what made the trip a success for me.

I came prepared with a long list of athletes I hoped to talk to, but, being Wisconsin born and raised, I was most intrigued by the Wisconsin players. In the midst of my excitement at noticing highly sought-after players walk into the Eastbay suite, I was most enthused when Ryan Ramczyk, Corey Clement, and Sojourn Shelton walked in for interviews.

Ramczyk, who started his football career at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP), was a former teammate of mine during his short stint with the UWSP football team. Ryan exploded onto the scene when he was given the opportunity to start for the Badgers and wasted no time becoming nationally recognized as a top offensive tackle entering the draft in only his first season starting at the Division I level.

Climbing the ladder in divisions is no easy task for any player, but Ramczyk believes the similar practice structure at Point and Madison was a major help in transitioning to the higher level. On the other hand, Ramczyk also noted that everything else essentially changed.

I think the biggest difference was the speed of the game. When I first got to Madison, the first snap I took, everything moved so fast and then the play was over already.
Ryan Ramczyk

He admitted it took a few weeks to catch up to the speed of the game. For Ryan, making the change came down to three things, “knowing your assignment, what you’re doing, and anticipating what the defense is going to do.”

Maybe my favorite takeaway from speaking with Ryan was finding out he aimed to take in 7,000 calories a day as a Badger. Most Division III athletic programs like UWSP do not have eating regimens for players, so this stat was certainly interesting.

Ramczyk noted Michigan’s Taco Charlton as his favorite matchup in college and is intrigued at the possibility of facing Von Miller of the Denver Broncos.

Corey Clement of the Badgers is another guy who didn’t see the spotlight until the later years of his college career. Before his first full season in a starting role, Clement provided excellent support at the running back position behind Melvin Gordon and James White. Finally given the spotlight in Wisconsin’s backfield, Clement piled up 1,375 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. No matter how long he had to wait for his turn, Clement cherishes the continued advice from his former running back partners and appreciates having them in his corner.

Corey believes fans of his team at the next level will appreciate his work ethic and ability to adjust to any type of environment. Clement also affirmed that he is a player who will remain dedicated and devoted to the game of football and the team he is with.

I think that’s where it starts. You’ve got to be trustworthy enough to even step foot on the field.
Corey Clement

Running backs are being asked more and more to not only contribute in the run game but also in the pass protect game. Clement is proud of his recent improvements in pass protection and emphasizes how, if he wants to be on the field, he must be able to keep his quarterback on his feet.

During his career with the Badgers, Clement worked under three running back coaches. Thankfully, Clement believes his outstanding learning curve helped him take valuable lessons from each coach.

Being able to retain so much information in a short amount of time is definitely one of the biggest things I pride myself on.
Corey Clement

Corey went on to say that he would love the opportunity to throw a move on Sean Lee, his favorite linebacker in the NFL, and that teleportation is his desired super power.

The final Badger I had the pleasure of talking with was cornerback Sojourn Shelton. Shelton was a two-time All-Big Ten honorable mention before being selected by the coaches to second-team All-Big Ten in his final season.

Shelton, like many cornerbacks, understands the role that mind games play when covering opposing wide receivers. The only difference is that Shelton’s mind games start with play.

When you can sit there covering a guy and he can’t get open, I think that’s what frustrates them.
Sojourn Shelton

He also noted that he is no stranger to a little talking from time to time, but in the end, it’s all about having fun and covering a guy to the point where he’s playing mind games with himself.

With all the great wide receivers in the NFL, I was a little thrown off when Shelton decided it was former teammates Corey Clement or Dare Ogunbowale that he is most looking forward to competing against. Sojourn cleared it up for me saying how it would be fun to go against guys he’s been with throughout his college career and who share a mutual understanding.

Shelton, who believes his ability in coverage and overall technique are his greatest attributes, would take great pride in intercepting Tom Brady, whom he considers the greatest of all time. Having watched Brady his whole life, it makes sense that Sojourn’s desired super power is being able to read Brady’s mind.

For the duration of my trip, I enjoyed every interaction with players, and at the end of the day there is only one way I could sum up my overall combine experience: I was a kid in a candy store. Consider this one checked off the bucket list.

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