When I last posted, it was Wednesday after the last padded practice. Thursday was the last walkthrough kind of thing, so nothing too intense. We had our walkthrough at Tropicana Dome on the field, which was pretty cool. It was my first time being there and it was just a huge dome. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a dome that size — maybe the Metrodome.
Friday night we had the Shriners banquet on the field, which was pretty cool, too. They recapped the week, talked about the great charity stuff we did at the Shriners hospital that past Sunday, played some cool videos . . . just a banquet to celebrate the Shrine game and the week and all the good deeds the Shriners hospital has done.
My dad and my brother came down for the Shrine game Saturday. It was nice to see them because we got to spend some time together. Had a little bro weekend. My brother works on Wall Street as an investment banker, so he doesn’t get a lot of time off. Obviously it was great to have the support of your family, especially in a week like that. My parents are really involved in the whole process. My mom couldn’t make it, but she loves reading up on everything.
Saturday, the game rolls around. It’s pretty difficult pre-game, you just kind of lay low for the day then you go over to the stadium and get dressed and everyone does their pregame speeches, and then before you know it the game is going on.
I think I played really well, I’m happy with the way I played. I haven’t been able to see the film, unfortunately, but I played a lot. We only had three interior d-linemen. Me, Derrick Hopkins — my roommate all week, he’s from Virginia Tech — and Justin Ellis from Louisiana Tech. The three of us just rotated, so I’m guessing I got 50-60 snaps.
But I got a sack and a forced fumble, which was really good for me because one of the things I wanted to show off was that I can pass rush — sacks are pretty hard to come by as a nose guard — as well stop the run.
We actually only had two defenses installed all week. Over front and under front. Under front just means you set the nose guard — which is the shade or a one-tech — to the tight end, and over is the opposite, where you set the three-tech to the tight end. We didn’t even really play much over. Maybe three or four times all game. We pretty much played one front all game and maybe 2-3 coverages, and they did that on purpose because they wanted to see the 1-on-1 matchups without blitzing and things like that. The install was as basic as you can get. Honestly, I think we ran a more complicated defense when I was in eighth grade.
I actually kind of liked being back in a 4-3. All last year I didn’t get to rush the passer much out of a three-tech too often. So it was nice to kind of get into a wide three-tech on third down and just go at it. It was nice because you can set up guys for moves all game. That’s how I got my sack. I just set up the guard, the same guard I was going up against a lot, from Tennessee, I just set him up for an outside move and I eventually won on it.
I just hit him on an arm over, but I haven’t seen the film. Sometimes after a big play like that you get so excited and celebrate so hard, you forget about what happened. I know I got him on an outside move, I think with an arm over — which some people call a swim move — and obviously it worked, so that’s all that matters I guess.
I was a little ticked that they didn’t give me credit for a forced fumble, but I know that he fumbled the ball. I was trying to get it, but I didn’t know where it was . . . it was just a big mass of bodies.
I thought it was a good week for me because I kind of did everything I wanted to do. Obviously in an All-Star game like that you want to go and showcase your talents and what you can do and I thought I did that and put some good stuff on film and tape for scouts.
Now with Shrine week over — it was a jam-packed week — I’m back in Bradenton training six days a week, with a couple of recovery days mixed in.
At this point I haven’t been invited to the NFL Combine yet. I’ve been told most of the invites are out, so who knows about that. Maybe some more invites will go out after the Senior Bowl, but right now I haven’t been invited so I’m just training for Pro Day. So I’ll be down here until probably late February until I head back up to Madison for Pro Day.