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

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.

Sights and Sounds from Indy

Sights and Sounds from Indy

Athletes who stopped by our Eastbay booth in Indy this year were treated to a VIP experience. After signing in, they received an exclusive interview that showcased another side of their personalities. After that, they hit up our game room where they took a break from all of the week’s action and got to just have fun. Prospects got to showcase their agility facing off against each other in the Strike-A-Light game, and they also had the chance to show off their brains with a variety of IQ quizzes. But the big hit was the Pop-A-Shot machine. Tons of prospects put their basketball skills and quickness to the test. In the end, Marcus Williams out of Utah had the high score with an insane 336 points. Check out all of the action with these behind-the-scenes pics.

 

Live From Indy: Meet The Athletes

Live From Indy: Meet The Athletes

We got a chance to chat with some of football’s top draft prospects as they went through their workouts and testing in Indy. Here are some of the highlights:

Evan Engram, Mississippi TE

His Time At Ole Miss

“It helped me grow a lot. I came in as part of a great recruiting class, and we really pushed each other. The guys and the coaches set a standard for us, and we just got better each and every day. Without all of them, I wouldn’t be in the position I am today.”

Advice To High School Athletes

“The biggest thing I learned right out of high school was to not get caught up in every recruit’s ranking. You hear about all these 5-star, 4-star guys, but none of that matters when you step on campus. A 2-star recruit will have the same opportunity that a 5-star does. So, just block all that noise out. Find a part of your game every day that you can get better at, outwork your competition, and surround yourself with good people.”

Marcus Maye, Florida S

The Florida DB Brotherhood

“Vernon Hargreaves, Keanu Neal, Brian Poole: I talk to those guys all the time. They all just had their rookie seasons, so they’ve been giving me a lot of tips and advice. We’ve been good friends since high school, and to this day, we can call each other up and still talk about whatever.”

What Type Of Player He Is

“A competitor. A guy who is willing to do whatever needs to get done. I’ll be a great locker room guy. I’m ready to play ball and listen and learn.”

Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin OT

Biggest Difference Between DIII (UW-Stevens Point) and DI Football (Wisconsin)

“Probably the speed of the game. When I first got to Wisconsin, the first snap I took, I was like, ‘Whoa, everything is moving so fast and the play is already over.’ It took a couple of weeks to catch up, settle down, and get used to it. You really had to settle your brain down and not try to take in everything that’s going on at once.”

Eating Regimen At Madison

“I was on a program where I tried to get about 7000 calories a day, especially during practice because it just takes it right out of you. It’s hard to eat that much, but they guided us on what to eat, and it was really helpful.”

Ethan Cooper, Indiana (PA) OL

From Indiana Penn To The Pros

“Being from a small school, I just always played my hardest. I made sure I dominated every game as much as I possibly could so I could separate myself and make my dream of playing in the pros become possible.”

Favorite Team Growing Up

“I’m a Philly fan but my entire family is Dallas fans. When those two play each other, it’s me vs. everybody back home! But obviously, I’ll be happy playing for any team.”

Live From Indy: Charles Harris

Live From Indy: Charles Harris

Shane Ray. Markus Golden. Michael Sam.

Over the past couple of years, few colleges have had as many elite pass rushers as Missouri. It’s crystal clear that their coaches thrive at discovering talented defensive ends and developing them into playmakers. Their latest star pupil, Charles Harris, has continued the tradition of excellence and is now ready to shine at the next level.

As he started to prep for Indy and the pros, Charles reached out to the great Mizzou pass rushers before him for advice. “They just told me to take it one day at a time and to be patient,” he said. “There are a lot of things going on at once and you can’t let that irritate you. You just need to stay humble and understand that every player goes through it.”

Charles certainly left his own mark as a Tiger, notching over 30 tackles for loss and 16 sacks during his last two seasons. At 6’3”, 255 pounds, he has the ideal size and weight ratio needed to be a threat against the run and the pass. The 21-year-old can beat you with speed, power, and smarts. He credits his signature move to his time spent in a different sport.

“My favorite pass rush style is the spin move,” Charles said. “And I definitely got the footwork and quickness for it from basketball.”

That agility could be useful to all 32 pro teams, no matter what scheme or style they play. “The first position I learned was 4-3 defensive end,” he explained. “I played on the left and right side of that scheme, so naturally it’s considered my best fit. But during this past year, I’ve dropped into coverage a lot more and played in a two-point stance, so it doesn’t matter. Whatever a team needs, I’m willing to provide.”

But let’s make one thing clear, the team that drafts Charles is getting more than just the perfect on-the-field fit, they’re getting the full package.

“If I could talk right now to the fans of my future team, I’d tell them ‘They’re not just getting a football player, they’re getting a leader,’” he said. “I’m willing to set up shop, do those small events for charity, and whatever else it takes to be a part of the community. I understand the value of my position and will appreciate it every day.”

 

Live From Indy: Marlon Humphrey

Live From Indy: Marlon Humphrey

At only 20 years old, Marlon Humphrey is one of the youngest players here in Indy.  But spend any amount of time talking to him, and you’ll think you’re in the presence of a grizzled veteran.

“I had to mature quickly in college at Alabama,” Marlon said. “During my freshman year, I participated in two sports—track and football. That’s not something that just anyone can do and it really made me grow up quickly.”

His time in track also shows on the gridiron where his explosiveness, acceleration, and quickness are second to none. “I ran the 400 and that definitely helped during football,” he said. “It really benefitted my speed but it also helped me stay out of trouble. Whereas most guys were in their offseason, I was still in an actual season and still competing.”

That’s another thing that makes Marlon stand out—his competitive fire. He always wants to take on the opponent’s best receiver and is singularly focused on winning every snap.

“Part of what made Alabama so great for me was the level of talent,” Marlon explained. “There are so many 5-star recruits and great players on that roster. Every practice, you’re taking on some of the best that college football has to offer.”

Those practices, which had to be legendary, will go a long way at the next level. “In the pros, almost every player was an All-American when they were in college,” he said. “It’s going to be a whole new speed.”

Marlon will be put to the test early and often during his rookie season as he’ll be asked to go toe-to-toe with some of the most freakish athletes in the game. “It’ll be crazy going against receivers like Odell and Julio,” he said. “These are guys who I’ve always watched on TV, but it’s what’s next for me and I’m excited for the challenge.”

It also helps that he has the ultimate lifeline to turn to when he needs advice. His dad, Bobby, was a legendary running back at Alabama and went on to play for Denver and Miami in the pros as well.

“The advice he gave me for the pros is the same advice he’s always given me,” Marlon said. “He told me ‘You got to this point in your career by being yourself on and off the field. Just keep doing that and everything else will come naturally.’”