TAMPA, Fla. — College football players that dream of one day playing in the NFL are busy preparing for the scouting combine and Draft Day.
“Whenever it comes to combine training, it’s like the SAT or ACT of football,” Cliff Brown, the sports performance director for Athlete Innovations said. “There’s standardized testing everyone has to go through.”
Brown is helping 15 former college football players, now NFL hopefuls, pass the test by putting them through drills, mental performance training, and other rigorous exercises.
“It’s very exciting. I’ve been grinding since I was young for this moment,” former USF defensive tackle Kevin Kegler told ABC Action News sports anchor Kyle Burger. “It’s funny, you’re in college counting down those years, sometimes five or six years, it flies by like that. It’s winding down, about a month and a half, two months out.”
Brown is a former member of the strength and condition staff for the Cincinnati Bengals, so he knows exactly what it takes to reach the highest level.
“There’s a lot of missing pieces when it comes to athletic development,” Brown said. "Outside the X’s and O’s, there’s a lot of other things, as far as infrastructure, things that will make you a pro or elongated your career.”
“Cliff is really good at explaining everything,” Kelvin Pinkney, a former USF defensive tackle added. “He’s making sure we get the best training we possibly can.”
Kegler, along with his USF teammate Pinkney learn that Brown not only wants them to build their bodies but build their brains with cognitive exercises.
“A lot of times you’re on the field and things happen real fast, especially being on defense with no-huddle teams, you have to process, slow everything down, process,” Kegler said.
For Kegler, that process and path to the NFL become a little easier with his Pinkney pushing him every step of the way.
“Sometimes I look over at him, I’m tired, I look over at him and think about all the times we had together,” Kegler said. “We actually came in together as a true freshman. With him here with me is a plus.”
The NFL Combine begins on March 1 inside Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.