By Chad Barney
The National Football League Combine, held in Indianapolis, is perhaps one of the longest weeks for hundreds of collegiate football athletes looking to prove they have what it takes to play in the NFL.
For former BYU football players Colby Bockwoldt and Scott Jackson (who have been invited to this weeks combine), this is the week they can showcase their athletic ability in front of a tough crowd of NFL scouts.
NFL scouts have stop watches clinched in the palms of their hands, eyes watching every move the athletes make and notepads covered with every ounce of information needed to determine if they are NFL caliber or not.
Bockwoldt started at outside linebacker for the Cougars his junior and senior years, registering 77 tackles and 4.5 sacks in his senior year. Bockwoldt was also the defensive MVP of this year”s Hula Bowl, a game that features some of the top seniors in college football.
Jackson was the starting center for the Cougar”s offensive line in both his junior and senior years. He also played in eight games during his sophomore year.
For the past couple of months, these two athletes, along with other graduating seniors from the football team, have been training and working hard in order to be given a shot to play or try-out for an NFL team.
The dream of becoming a professional athlete is shared by many who love to compete, enjoy being challenged, have overcome adversity and who finally look impossibility in the eye and surpass it.
These are obstacles athletes are presented with if they want the chance to be called “the best of the best.”
For these football athletes whose collegiate career doors are now shut and locked, only capable of being opened with a key called “memories” and not the key of “eligibility”, they now try to open another door. This door is said to be nearly impossible to open, for only one out of every 230 athletes ever get it opened. This door is that of the NFL.
For Bockwoldt and Jackson, the combine is filled with test after test, and eyes watching every move they make. Literally.
In a statement given by representatives of the NFL to potential NFL players – who will be taken through these grueling tests such as how fast you are, how high can you jump and how strong you are – the number one test is how you handle the STRESS.
Once they enter the arena where the athletes will be tested, every eye is on them. These scouts already know how well the athletes can play and the skills they have, but they don”t know how they will handle the stress that comes from being watched constantly, the sound of the stop watch beeping every time you stop and go in a given drill.
These are definitely stressful times. From the moment the athletes arrive to the moment they leave, their every move is written and logged. Who they hang with, what they say and do, where they sit, all of this is taken into effect.
For those BYU football athletes who didn”t receive an invitation to the combine, this doesn”t mean they don”t have a chance to play in the NFL. Many NFL players have made it in the league that didn”t receive an invitation to Indianapolis.
Their time to shine will come in March, when many of the NFL scouts will come to BYU to watch their every move and put them through the same tests that Bockwoldt and Jackson are competing in this week.