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Seniors look to make big impressions

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Jan 27, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: C<a target="_blank" href="http://www.chargers.com/news/headline_detail.cfm?news_key=2531">hargers.com</a>

    <img width="266" height="175" alt="Coaches at the Senior Bowl" id="image1880" src="http://bolttalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/01/300_senior_012706.jpg" />

    By Casey Pearce

    By the time Chargers running back Darren Sproles arrived in Mobile, Alabama last January, he'd already answered the question almost as frequently as he had made Big XII defenders look silly.<font size="-1" face="verdana, arial, geneva, san-serif" class="body3">"I got the job done in high school and in college, but people still wondered if I was big enough to play at the next level," Sproles said."  "I'll admit that I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder when I got to the Senior Bowl."  It was another chance to prove to people that I was a player."

    Sproles did just that."  The former Kansas State Wildcat rushed five times for 55 yards to earn North Offensive Player of the Game honors."  His afternoon included an emotional 24-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

    </font><font></font>"He had a phenomenal week," recalls Chargers Director of College Scouting Jimmy Raye."  "People had the same questions about him as far as size."  They put him in the game and he played excellent against that level."  You had to look at him and realize that the guy did that against Big XII competition for four years."  Then he came here and had a great week."  He's one of many guys that helped themselves"

    Like Sproles did a year ago, approximately 100 of the nation's top college seniors have been busy this week trying to impress scouts at the Senior Bowl."  The event culminates Saturday with the 56th-annual game.

    "You get to see a guy work in an environment where they're coached by NFL people," Raye said."  "You have the opportunity to see how they improve from day to day learning different techniques that are being taught by people at the highest level."  We're able to learn a lot during the week that will help us make our evaluations."

    During the fall, Raye spends the majority of his time on college campuses."  While he learns a lot about players during that time, many schools restrict the access of scouts."  The week of the Senior Bowl allows personnel evaluators to form more complete opinions.

    "Normally you only get to see the guy for one practice," Raye said."  "You go to the school, watch tape, and some schools only allow you to watch a certain amount of practice."  You might not get to see a guy work very much at all."  To actually see the guy work in a full-speed situation, it's as close as you can that's not a game."  With all these people here and the way the tempo of practice is, you can't ask for anything better."

    Each year, the NFL chooses two coaching staffs to instruct the teams in Birmingham."  This year, Mike Nolan and the San Francisco 49ers staff will instruct the South squad while Jeff Fisher and the Tennessee Titans' coaches lead the North."  Most of the country's top players participate."  However, early entrees such as USC's Reggie Bush and Vince Young of Texas are not invited due to their underclassmen status.

    According to Raye, practices are run much like professional minicamps."  Scouts get a chance to watch players learn a pro system and see how their games translate to the style of the next level.

    "When we came to the Senior Bowl six years ago when LaDainian (Tomlinson) came out, he had played in an option offense at TCU," Raye said."  "Everybody had questions about him because a lot of his yards were gained off pitches where he was out in space."  We came here and got to see him in an I formation."  The guy was the MVP of the game, and the rest is history."

    In addition to playing in new systems, the Senior Bowl often allows athletes to experience a new level of competition."  This year's contest does not include any players from NCAA Division I-AA schools, but a year ago, Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson was one of five such athletes to participate.

    Like Sproles, scouts had questions about Jackson."  Despite his eye-popping numbers at Northern Colorado, personnel evaluators wondered how he'd stack up against stiffer competition.

    "Vince started out the week slowly," Raye said."  "At the beginning of the week, it was kind of a shock to him."  He was used to playing against guys 5-8 and 5-9 when he was a man amongst boys."  He got here and all of the sudden he was competing against the cream of the crop."  I think he had to work himself into getting used to the speed of the game and playing at a higher level, playing against better competition."  He had to figure out ways to help himself in terms of getting open."  He had to rely more on technique and not just physical ability."

    But like he did as his first professional season progressed, Jackson made gains each day while in Birmingham."  His work led the Bolts to use a second round selection on him last April.

    "As the week went on, you could see him get better and better," Raye said."  "We really liked how he improved during the week, and it pushed him up our charts."

    The Senior Bowl also allows scouts to evaluate a prospect's intelligence, personality and ability to pick up a playbook.

    "Each scout has a certain position he's responsible for," Raye said."  "We conduct one-on-one interviews with each guy, trying to get a general feel for his background and personality."  We want to gauge his basic level of intelligence and see how he's going to help the Chargers become a better team. You have a gut feeling about a guy going in, that he's a pretty good player."  To see a guy excel under circumstances where each he's had only one week to prepare for the game, if he's able to separate himself in that environment, it's nothing but positive for his stock."
     

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