Since becoming a fan of the National Football League, attending the NFL Scouting Combine has been on my bucket list. Like many, my hopes of playing in the NFL have come and gone but from March 1-4 Eastbay provided me with the opportunity to realize a childhood dream.
From my time working for The Pointer, I found myself qualified enough to apply for the chance to travel with Eastbay to the combine for a behind the scenes experience.
In the coming weeks after applying, I received an email stating I was one of two applicants invited by Eastbay to attend the combine as a guest blogger where I would be given the opportunity to meet a plethora of college athletes and pick their brains about college or the goals they hope to achieve at the next level.
When thinking of questions for players, I also felt it was necessary to put each athlete on the spot by asking what their desired super power would be. I received a wide range of answers from lighting speed to teleportation.
Despite not posting the fastest 40-yard dash time, the behind the scenes interaction I experienced with the Eastbay crew, athletes and my fellow guest blogger were everything I could have asked for.
With everyone talking about how important it is to make connections with whoever you can, what I valued most about this trip was doing just that. Aside from regularly interacting with players and Eastbay, I found myself talking with top marketers for Under Armour, NFL representatives and sports agents.
The craziest part of my trip was looking up to see NFL legend Dan Marino walking past me. Some also know Marino for his superb role in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. As a huge sports fan, this was the most star struck I have been.
Inside the Eastbay suite, players walked into the spotlight and began with an interview in front of the Eastbay backdrop. After that, if any of us working on blogs wanted to talk to a player, they were sent in to interview with the three of us in the room and from there went on to enjoy the food or game room.
Throughout the few days I was there, a friendly competition began to form on our pop shot game where players shot baskets for the highest score on the machine.
Conversations with players ranged from talking to guys who are highly sought after by NFL teams to those projected to be undrafted.
Some players were quieter than others but what I appreciated most was a majority of the players I encountered were humble about the experience.
There were many athletes I hoped to talk to but, thankfully, I snuck back from Lucas Oil Stadium just in time for my most anticipated interview featuring Ryan Ramczyk of the Wisconsin Badgers.
Being that Ramczyk is a former offensive lineman for the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point football team, it was a priority of mine to reconnect and dissect his transition to a higher level of play.
Ramczyk noted many changes transitioning to Division 1 football but it was the game speed that took him a few weeks to adjust to.
“When I first got to Wisconsin, the first snap I took everything moved so fast and then the play was over already,” said Ramczyk.
Ramczyk went on to say that along with similar practice structure at both levels, what he found most helpful was slowing down mentally, understand his assignment and anticipating what the defense was going to do.
The most interesting part of my interview with Ramczyk was discovering that his daily caloric intake goal at UW-Madison is over 7,000 calories. Generally, schools at the Division III level do not have eating regimens set up for players, so hearing this surprised me.
During my trip, I enjoyed every interview or connection I made. At the end of the day, there is one way I could sum up my NFL combine experience—I was a kid in a candy store.
I’m happy to announce I can cross this off the bucket list.