Ask the Scout: Takeaways from our Rookie Agent Zoom

Tuesday night, dozens of our clients who are in their first year as certified contract advisors assembled for our monthly Zoom session. This time, we were joined by Bob Morris, GM of the USFL’s Houston Gamblers. Here are a few takeaways.

  • I take no joy in saying this, but it’s incredibly hard to get a small-school player into a big-school pro day, and I’d say it’s gotten harder each year over the past decade. It’s gone from “maybe we’ll let you into our pro day if your school is in our state” to “we’re gonna need at least one scout who’s attending the pro day to call and vouch for the player” to “we’re gonna need two scouts to vouch” to “we’re full.” Almost exactly a third of players signed by agents so far are from sub-FBS schools. That’s a lot of players who may not get a chance to work out for scouts.
  • If you do get a player into a pro day, there’s no guarantee he’ll get to do the entire workout. Most schools use the 40 as a weed-out drill. A slow 40 might mean game over for the entire workout.
  • There’s a perception that the USFL (and to some degree, the XFL) are easy backup plans for players who go undrafted. However, Bob made it clear that he’s looking for NFL-caliber players and not just any player who’s every put on pads before. Also, the USFL can’t take players who weren’t in the draft pool until after Week 3 of the season (around the end of April). If there are any positives, it’s that the player doesn’t have to undergo a physical or a tryout to become part of the player pool in May. The player just needs a USFL GM to ask the league’s personnel director, John Peterson, to add him to the pool. That way, all eight teams have a crack at him.
  • In the USFL, players who are brought in for a tryout are responsible for their own travel and lodging. Hey, it’s a new league. They’re trying to be smart about spending money.
  • Bob said he uses all-star appearances as a good indication of whether or not a player has even minimal appeal to an NFL team. He said he wouldn’t even consider recommending a player for a pro day if he didn’t at least participate in an all-star game.
  • There are about 1,400 players signed to standard representation agreements this year. The size of the class should be down this year. Given how many Day 3 types went back to school with tidy NIL deals, the depth in the class isn’t great. That’s good news for first-year agents whose clients are more fringe.

Next month, we’ll have our final Rookie Agent Zoom, and it’s a key session. We’ll talk about draft weekend, how to gauge interest in your client, what to do if your client goes undrafted, how to spark interest and may other topics. Especially if you’re a new agent, I hope you can join us. Sign up for ITL here, or sign up for our free newsletter here.


Evolution of Signing Compensation for Top Draft Prospects

Tonight, I’m joining my friend Eugene Lee of 3 Strand Sports in his sports law class. We’ll be discussing the history of compensation provided to players by agents interested in signing them for standard representation.

The following is what I came up with. Is it perfectly accurate? Probably not, but pinning all this down is not easy. I reached out to several of my friends in player representation who’ve been around for a while, and most of them generally agreed with this timeline and the various facets of compensation (don’t call them inducements) I’ve listed.

  • Prior to around 2002: We didn’t really see players offered anything to sign with an agent until about 2002. Players might train on their own, but often, an agent would go to the combine to recruit and sign players.
  • 2005: This is about when the first training packages were offered. These were pretty bare-bones. Players would be tutored on speed, but programs were far from comprehensive.
  • 2007: It was around here that training started to be somewhere away from a player’s school or hometown, and began to specialize. More importantly, it was around this time that solely training was enough to offer. We began to see no-interest loans at this time, i.e., money the bank wanted back.
  • 2009: As the new CBA arrived, agents were beginning to shift from the no-interest loan to a marketing guarantee. This was legit; it wasn’t just free money disguised as earned money. Most of the marketing consisted of trading card and other deals. Back then, it was still common for the major shoe companies (Nike, Reebok, etc.) to provide apparel to draft prospects. It didn’t last much longer, however.
  • 2012: By now, we were well into the new CBA, and agents were now operating without the promise of the gargantuan rookie signing bonuses that teams handed out to top picks pre-2009. Still, players were expecting what previous draftees had received. We saw training really ramp up (by now, most combine training was taking place in the Sun Belt) and we saw marketing guarantees swell. This is also when agencies started providing a monthly allowance to top picks (called per diems) and we started to see agents offer to bill only two percent, not three percent, to top draftees.
  • 2015: It was around here that packages really began to expand. Players were getting training that also included rental cars and, at times, splashy living accommodations. They were also getting bigger signing bonuses while per diems were also inching up. Fee cuts were becoming more common, and marketing guarantees were stacked on top of signing bonuses.
  • 2018: It was probably around this time that we were seeing four-figure per diems become commonplace. This is also when fees were beginning to be 1 point for first-rounders, 2 points for second-rounders and 3 for all others. At  the same time, this is when I started to hear of some desperate firms offering a no-fee rookie deal (the agency would make money solely on marketing until the second contract). Obviously, all the other stuff (training, signing bonus, marketing guarantee) was also on the table.

Today, we’re seeing the following:

  • Training that typically runs in the $30,000 to $40,000 range.
  • Per diems — especially for players projected in the first 10-20 picks — in the $10,000 per month range.
  • A standard one percent fee for projected first-rounders, and in many cases when a firm is truly desperate to sign a top player, no fee at all.
  • Some agencies are even beginning to offer a fee cut on the second deal, the place where firms used to get well financially.
  • Marketing guarantees are still around, though often, agencies don’t expect a lot of actual work on these, i.e., appearances, signings, social media posts, etc. 

Obviously, not everyone in the draft class is receiving this — not by a long shot. These are mainly available to only the top prospects in the draft, though many of these are becoming commonplace even to later-round players. This is true to the point where, in my opinion, many players lose sight of their important goals while trying to maximize “what they get.”

If all of this sound excessive to you, you’re not alone. “It’s the most asinine, short-sighted cannibalism in American commerce,” said one established agent of the direction the industry is taking.

A Few Thoughts on Combine Week 2023

It’s been a pretty busy few days in Indianapolis. Here are a few things that stuck with me.

  • Giants Executive Scout Jeremiah Davis won the C.O. Brocato Award at the 14th annual 2023 USI Insurance Holdings ITL Combine Seminar presented by American Tens. It was special for a lot of reasons, but especially so because, for the first time, we had a member of the winner’s family join us. Jeremiah’s daughter, Chloe, filmed her dad’s acceptance speech from that audience, and she seemed to be near tears as she did. I mean, it was pretty touching. It’s exciting to be part of something like that.
  • Jack Mills won our Eugene E. Parker Award for his years as a contract advisor. Two things stick out. One, he has been an agent for 55 years! If you follow the industry, that’s like 3-4 eras of representation he’s seen. Second, when Denver-based Peter Schaffer (who assists me in selecting the award winners) told him he’d won, he bought a plane ticket the next day. So that’s pretty cool. Again, very rewarding to honor good people.
  • In our BART List balloting — which determines, by vote of active scouts and executives, the top scouts in the game — we saw four repeat winners each in both conferences. In the NFC, Tariq Ahmad (49ers), Jeff Ireland (Saints), Tokunbo Abanikanda (Falcons) and Ted Monago (Rams) won for the second straight year. In the AFC, it was Ed Dodds (Colts), Terrance Gray (Bills), Matt Terpening (Colts) and Johnathon Stigall (Jets). 
  • Our first-ever Agents and Collectives (don’t call it NIL) Summit was a smashing success. There was a tremendous amount of candor and transparency; you couldn’t help but learn. Any time you assemble a lineup of experts, you hope they won’t talk “over” people and you hope they won’t hide the inner workings of the business. We had very positive outcomes on both counts this morning.
  • One last note — it was also a lot of fun talking to the future stars of the football industry who came to Indianapolis as part of the Lynn University sports management program. I got a chance to talk to the 13 folks here in town on the value of taking risks if you’re pursuing a career in sports. I shared a few war stories and, hopefully, didn’t bore them too much. Professor Sherry Andre’s students had some good questions, and they’re obviously passionate about the industry or they wouldn’t be here.

It’s been a fun and productive week, but a pretty taxing one, too, with late nights and early mornings. It’s all part of getting out there and building your network, which is a critical part of growth and progress. If you didn’t make it this year, I hope you do next year.

We’ll have more on what took place here in non-Lucas Oil Stadium action in our newsletter, the Friday Wrap. You can register for it here.

How Do You Build Friendships with NFL Scouts?

This is a question I get all the time. With dozens (hundreds?) of aspiring evaluators ready to descend on Indianapolis next week, I thought delve further into this topic, though I’ve addressed it in this space previously and on social media. I don’t have the answers, but here are a few things to remember that might be helpful.

Desperation is off-putting: If you give yourself an ultimatum about getting a job while at the Combine (or anywhere else), that sense of urgency is going to be written all over you. It tends to come across in a negative way.

It’s about more than football: If you can find a common bond with a scout, your chances of building a relationship are infinitely greater. Ask about a scout’s family, his alma mater, or where he’s from, and you’re far more likely to have a lasting friendship.

Play the long game: In the early days of ITL, I was pretty desperate to befriend scouts, too. Two decades later, I have friends on all 32 teams. It just takes time. Obviously, you may not have two decades to pursue this, but the sooner you get out there and start making friends, the sooner that “long time” gets a lot shorter.

Understand that there’s an element of luck: When I was a kid, I thought people who worked in the NFL got there because they were way smarter and harder-working than I am. These days, I don’t think that’s true. In most cases, they got a break, then took advantage of it. Not everyone gets that break. You just have to accept that.

Know when to go solo: You may travel to Indy with others who are seeking a job in scouting, and I recommend this. At the same time, you need to realize that you’re competing with your friends, as well. It’s rare that a team hires several people that know each other. Be a good guy, but you’re going to have to put your own goals first.

Develop your instincts, then trust them: This is an inexact science. At some point, you will have to use your best judgement. Don’t be afraid to trust your gut.

Take risks: At some point, doing the safe thing will not be the way. In fact, the best way may go directly contrary to one of the points I’ve made in this post. That’s life. It’s not always predictable. Trust your gut and make your move if you feel it’s time. To get a job in scouting, you’re going to have to beat the odds.

One more tip: Go where the scouts go. One place where many of them will be will be discussed in this week’s Friday Wrap. If you haven’t already registered for it, make sure to do that here.

When Do I Go to the Combine?

This week, I’m going to try to answer a very difficult, but very popular, question that I get this time of year: If I’m an agent who doesn’t have a client working out, or I’m going to Indy to network as an aspiring NFL scout, when should I be there?

I should start by saying there’s no right answer to this. It all depends on your budget, your schedule flexibility, your willingness to “put yourself out there,” and why you’re going to Indy.

So when should you arrive and when should you depart? You may be one of those people who has a job or classes during the work week, and good on you if you do. However, if you don’t arrive until Friday night or Saturday, the week is pretty much over. Workouts start Thursday night, which means they’re pretty much over on Sunday. if you don’t arrive until the weekend, much of the hay is already in the barn. I recommend arriving Wednesday and leaving Friday or Saturday. Obviously, Wednesday of combine is a key part of our year at Inside the League, which we discuss weekly in our Friday Wrap (register for it here).

There’s another important point to be made. The NFL Combine is still a workplace for the league’s scouts and executives (as well as the players working out), so unless you are employed by an NFL team or are part of the media covering things, you are gonna feel left out. Indianapolis is a great place to hold the combine, but it’s a cold-weather city in March, so everything takes place indoors, unlike at all-star games. You need a badge to get through the door most places you’ll want to be, but there are shortcuts to getting access if you know a few tricks.

I’m going to focus on two tracks: aspiring scout and aspiring agent.


  • If your future is in player representation, you’re probably going to want to meet as many scouts as you can and maybe even catch the eye of a big firm that might hire you later.
  • Unfortunately, there is no one hotel where agents tend to stay. All i can tell you is stay downtown if you can afford it. If you’re really budget-minded, stay near the airport (you can find places there for a fraction of the cost, though the Uber rides may balance things a little). I generally use the restaurants downtown as my “office” when I’m in Indy, and you can, too. i recommend this place. It’s centrally located and has really big booths.
  • More bad news: The NFLPA no longer holds its all-agents meeting during combine. instead it’s held online the week before. So there’s no central location for contract advisors.
  • If you’re looking for a place to stake out, the halls and corridors of the Indiana Convention Center are probably a good place to start during the day. It’s kinda like the “highway” of downtown Indy. Lots of vendors set up here for that reason. In the evenings, you’re looking at the Yard House, Harry & Izzy’s, Prime 47 and, of course, St. Elmo’s.


  • If you want to be hired as a scout, you’ll need to be around scouts. One place to catch them is the Starbucks at the JW Marriott downtown. You’ll want to be there quite early; there’s actually been a whole story written about this in The Athletic. The key is patience and deference to the people you meet. If you’re too solicitous, you’re just going to make people angry.
  • The JW has probably replaced The Omni as the best networking location in Indianapolis. The NFL buys out the entire hotel (or at least most of it), and most NFL teams hunker down there. Where scouts are, agents (and everyone else) tend to be.
  • The hotel bar, Velocity, is also a popular place for scouts who want to catch a late beverage.

Ask the Scouts: What If the NFL Combine Went Away?

This week, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith called for the end of the NFL Combine. It’s probably bluster, and it’s unknown if it’s something Smith will continue to push for, but when a person in Smith’s position speaks, you have to consider what he says.

That’s why I asked a few of my friends in scouting what it would mean for there to be no combine. It’s a worthy question because, in the space of about 10 years, we’ve seen the annual Indianapolis workouts go from a mostly hidden evaluation exercise to a large media phenomenon which includes whistle-to-whistle coverage. That’s great for Internet scouts, but it’s made the job of NFL scouts a little less comfortable, at the very least.

Here are the responses we got and the points scouts made:

  • Why make medical examinations less efficient?: “They still have to have some type of central medical testing take place. It wouldn’t be feasible to have the players go to 32 clubs for exams, so I don’t ever see that component going away.  I could see them eliminating the interviews and making it a medical event with on-field workouts for TV.  They aren’t going to lose that programming for NFL network.”
  • A lot of talented players might go undrafted: “It would definitely affect the way things are evaluated. . . Would make it harder on the players with removing the medical aspect. . . Would create more financial and logistical challenges for NFL teams, college teams and agents as well.”
  • T-30 visits would have to be expanded: “My guess would be that there would be more medical question guys brought in for top 30 (visits), or the league may allow more than 30 visits. I don’t think it would affect pro days too much. There will still be the usual coverage with scouts and coaches to hash out questions.”  
  • It would ultimately mean more work for the players: “If you don’t have them all in one place, the kid will have to most likely (be evaluated medically, be interviewed, and work out) a bunch of times with all the teams individually. It’s big business, and when clubs invest big money, they want to get as much information as possible to make decisions. It won’t change the information they want from the kids, I believe, just the method and logistics of getting it.”

Is Smith really serious? Time will tell. Ultimately, though, it probably wouldn’t benefit players the way Smith thinks it would. . . or at least that’s what scouts think.

To learn more about how scouts — and others around the league — think, make sure you’re reading our weekly newsletter, the Friday Wrap. You can register for it here.

A Senior Bowl with a Different Feel

Wednesday, I spoke to my friend Jane Verneuille, who’s in charge of credentials for the Senior Bowl. Jane is kind of like the “mom” of the game, beloved by people like me who’ve been coming for decades. Anyway, she told me the number of credentials awarded this year was about the same as it always is. That took me by surprise, because the talking point among people here all week has been how the numbers are down. It just doesn’t feel like the same place it was maybe five years ago, before Covid.

Maybe it’s not true. Jane would never lie. The numbers are the numbers. Still, everyone I spoke to this week said the same thing: where is everybody?

I think the main factor, as pointed out by one friend this week, is that teams don’t send coaching staffs to Mobile anymore. It’s more than just the two teams that used to staff the game; you don’t see any head coaches, coordinators or position coaches here, and at one time, you saw them all. My old joke used to be that on your first day at the Senior Bowl, you wanted to take a selfie if you saw Sean Payton or Mike Tomlin in the bathroom, but by Day 3, you just wanted to go to the bathroom. These days, coaches just aren’t here.

Here are a few more reasons Mobile felt a little more empty this week.

  • The closure of the second floor commons area at the Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel is the biggest post-Covid change in Senior Bowl policies. The old joke used to be if someone set off a bomb on the second floor of the team hotel on Tuesday or Wednesday, they’d have to cancel the draft. These days, however, if you aren’t directly involved with the game or the league, you can’t go up the escalator. Everyone who has been coming here since before 2019 feels the difference and laments it.
  • That’s not the only barrier segregating NFL personnel from everyone else. Since the game moved from Ladd-Peebles to Hancock Whitney Stadium, scouts and executives sit on one side of the stadium and everyone else stays on the other side. The view is the same; you just don’t get a chance to exchange pleasantries with the friends you’ve made the way you used to. That’s probably a good thing. They should be allowed to do their jobs without being bothered. Still, it’s different.
  • The Shrine Bowl schedule has had an undeniable impact. “Arrival day” used to be Monday; now that practices in Las Vegas overlap Senior Bowl week, no one gets here that early anymore. What’s more, because the Pro Bowl is also in Vegas, people leave earlier.
  • Similarly, weigh-ins used to be Tuesday’s must-see event. These days, like all but one all-star game, the Senior Bowl doesn’t even have public weigh-ins anymore. That’s one less opportunity for everyone on the coaching and evaluation side to be in one room together.
  • I think that the absence of NFL coaches here has taken away some of the “job fair” aspect of the game. Fired college and pro staffs used to descend on Mobile with resumes in hand. I think these days, the bigger names in coaching are relying on their agents to do their networking.
  • The AFCA Convention has probably replaced the Senior Bowl, to some degree, as an offseason rendezvous point. It’s held much earlier in the month, but it serves the same purpose.
  • The Senior Bowl used to be the third or fourth week in January, but now that the game bumps up against Signing Day, I think that has had a big impact on the number of college personnel evaluators who used to make it here.
  • XFL camps are under way. That’s a lot of coaches and scouts who might otherwise be in Mobile, either looking for jobs or simply renewing acquaintances.
  • One thing I heard all week is how Mobile has been “built out” much more than in the past. It’s true; there are more restaurants and hotels, and some of them are outside of the downtown area. This has had an undeniable impact on the bars and eateries that used to be packed this week. It shocked me to find out that Wintzell’s Oyster House, which used to be a Senior Bowl institution, wasn’t even open on Monday. Later in the week, there were multiple empty tables during the evening rush. The restaurant is clearly facing staffing and service problems, much as the rest of the country is, but this doesn’t explain the obvious dip in demand.
  • Financial professionals, especially those trying to break into the industry, used to be ubiquitous here, but they don’t get credentialed anymore. Granted, they don’t need to if they just want to watch practices or gather downtown, but I think many of them feel intimidated without the stamp of approval that comes with holding a badge.
  • The number of people covering the game, sharing their opinions and interviewing players has grown immensely. Maybe people feel they don’t need to be here as much anymore.

I think some of the void has been filled by aspiring NFL scouts from all walks of life. Some of them are from college personnel departments, but a lot of the people I’ve met have never worked for a college or pro team. Their fascination with player evaluation brings them to Mobile with hopes that they can make a connection that could be life-changing.

Mobile used to be the one place where everyone in the scouting and player representation industries gathered for one low-pressure week. That sense of community isn’t gone, but it’s certainly lessened. Not seeing people carrying around the faux-leather Senior Bowl notebooks that used to be handed out kinda makes someone like me sad. It’s nobody’s fault, I guess, but it’s a bit of a downer, and I’m not sure it will ever be the way it once was.

Ask the Scouts: Thoughts on the New NFL GMs

Last year around this time, we asked several friends in the industry about Joe Schoen, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Ryan Poles, who had just been installed as the new general managers of the Giants, Vikings and Bears, respectively. Here’s what it looked like.

It’s a new year, and there are new GMs in Nashville and Phoenix. We thought we’d ask around about them, as well. Here’s what they told us.

Monti Ossenfort, Cardinals (former Director of Player Personnel, Titans)

  • “Well-organized but will need to become his own man. Bided his time and climbed the ladder. Heavily influenced by (his time in New England); will be interesting to see what new systems and ideas he will put in place. Very hard worker who is organized, but who will need to put experienced guys around him he trusts to allow him to run the entire organization from a football operations standpoint.”
  • “Genuine individual, active listener and skilled leader!”
  • “Monti is a well-respected person and evaluator in the personnel community. Very good work ethic. Always a hard worker when I went to schools and was on the road with him. Very good in school skills, with knowledge of coaches and contacts at each school. Excellent people skills. Very low-key, not an attention-seeker, and just goes about this job. Will be a popular GM for scouts that want to work with him because of his management skills and sterling reputation.”
  • “Very high-character person that treats people the right way. Handles himself well. Doesn’t look for attention. Low ego. Very good leadership and people skills. Has come up the right way and didn’t skip any steps. Has been around consistent winners his entire career. Will take the foundation of the NE system and make it his own. I’d bet on him to succeed.”
  • “Monti is A-plus all-around. The person, the scout, the leader, tremendous in all facets. Outstanding ability to collaborate and take every angle into decision-making processes.”

Ran Carthon, Titans (former Director of Player Personnel, 49ers)

  • “Very sharp. Very organized. Outstanding evaluator whose voice has grown in that organization each year since his arrival. Got personality and does a great job mentoring young scouts for them. Niners have a deep bench but he will missed.”
  • “Excellent communicator. Really cares about relationships.”
  • “The job won’t be too big for him. He will be prepared. He knows how to treat people and will be a solid leader.”
  • “Ran has a well-roundedness about him that is unmatched. It goes without saying he has the knowledge/history of the game and has put in the work – that’s clear. But his authenticity and charisma are what make him who he is. He’s true to his roots and makes you feel like someone is always in your corner. . . I’ve never seen players interact with an executive like they do with him, either. Very natural.”

For more insider takes on the game, make sure you’re reading our weekly newsletter, the Friday Wrap. You can sign up for it here.

Highlights from Week 2 of the ’23 All-Star Season

This week, I’m in Orlando, Fla., for the second half of the 2023 Trillion Tropical Bowl. The first part of the week was dedicated to players fighting to win spots on the roster for later in the week, when teams arrived to evaluate prospects. It’s a new dimension added this year by Michael Quartey and his team.

Here are a few things that happened this week that caught my attention.

  • Per yesterday’s measurements, there are 16 players in Orlando with at least 10-inch hands. UNLV DT Tavis Malakius has the biggest mitts with at 10 7/8 inches. Hawaii WO Jordan Murray has 10 1/4-inch hands, biggest of all the non-linemen. Murray’s got 33-inch arms and a 80 1/2-inch wingspan, enormous for a receiver. Southeast Missouri St. WO Johnny King has quite a catch radius, as well, with 34 1/8-inch arms. Auburn DE Marcus Bragg has the longest arms on either roster at 36 inches.
  • This is not a comprehensive list, but I’ve seen multiple scouts here from the 49ers, Bucs, Bears, Colts, Falcons, Jaguars, Jets, Packers, Saints, Steelers and Texans. As always, the Trop is a popular destination with NFL teams.
  • There are 70 agencies (or advisors working on a less formal basis) representing the 139 players here. That number seems high. Many of the agencies that regularly send players to Orlando aren’t here this year. Not sure what that means, if anything, but it’s different.
  • Here’s something I thought was interesting. Former Ravens DT John Urschel has his doctorate in mathematics, and though his playing days are behind him, he’s found a way to stay around the game. He tutors draft prospects on the Wonderlic via Zoom for combine prep trainees at EXOS Arizona.
  • Like any game these days, the Tropical Bowl has had to deal with players who said they’d be here, but who pulled out quite late or just no-showed. We counted 16 players who weren’t around Thursday morning for meetings and measurements. Good for Boise St. DC Caleb Biggers, who showed up this morning in time for practice, and Florida St. TE Camren McDonald, who got an NFLPA Collegiate Bowl invite but decided to stay for practices before departing the day before the game to report to Los Angeles.
  • Do these no-shows have an impact on players’ draft standing? Maybe not if handled well, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. I’ll never forget when I ran the 2008 Hula Bowl and I was approached mid-week by Jim Abrams, now the Senior Scout for the Dolphins but then in his time with the Bucs. Jim pointedly asked me if there were any players we’d had trouble with that week. Well, we had one lineman from a MAC school who started complaining on the first day and didn’t quit until he got on his plane home. Keep in mind he was on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii. I mean, how bad could things be? I was happy to tell Jim about this friend. For more on this topic — one that strikes a nerve with me — check out today’s Friday Wrap, which comes out at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can register for it here.
  • I’m always approached about what it takes to become an agent. If you choose player representation, I’d keep in mind this expression from one established, successful, and maybe a little world-weary contract advisor who’s been a friend for a long time. When discussion today turned to when retirement might come, his response was maybe a little wry but accurate: “The only exit strategy is death.”



2023 All-Star Season: Notes from Week 1

Week One of all-star play for the 2023 draft class is in the books with the College Gridiron Showcase wrapped and the Hula Bowl set for this weekend. Here are a few things of note that have happened, or that I’ve heard, so far.

  • You like long arms on offensive linemen? Then you’ll love South Florida OT Demontrey Jacobs, who turned in 37-inch arms as a member of the CGS Desperadoes roster this week. That’s a full inch-and-a-half longer than any other player in Fort Worth. Special notice also goes to East Carolina WO Isaiah Winstead, who had 33.25-inch arms as a pass-catcher. That’s longer arms than six of the Wranglers offensive linemen. Meanwhile, Illinois St. DT Jason Lewan had the biggest hands at 11.5 inches. The only other player in Fort Worth with an 11-inch hand span was Jacobs

    Legendary IFL coach (and would-be train wreck veteran) Les Moss and me, the idiot who managed to get hit by a locomotive in ’85.

    (11 inches exactly).
  • One of the fun things about all-star season is seeing old friends, but this year was special for me as I got to shake hands with the reigning Indoor Football League Coach of the Year, Les Moss of the IFL’s Northern Arizona Wranglers. Les is more than just a legendary coach in the indoor game, but he was also in the car behind me when, in 1985, my car (a tiny MGB) was hit by a fast-moving coal train in Poca, W.Va. One day I’ll tell the story of that day in this space.
  • I also want to say what a pleasure it was working with the member of the 2023 CGSU class. Mike Rittelman and I had the honor of leading 16 aspiring NFL scouts who came to Fort Worth and worked extremely hard over a three-day period. The 16 were Brandon Ashe, Mark Austad, Garrett Ballard, Mike Bey, Davarus Branigan, Gus Christensen, Daniel Docal, John Grout, Dondrell Harris, Michael Joiner, Jordan Kalfon, Joe Luke, Brandon Morris, David Senko, Cardell Rawlings and Brandon Tamres. This group was very tight-knit and worked as a team, just as a football group should. Look for them in NFL front offices some day.
  • I also want to thank all the scouts who spoke to our CGSU class, sharing their experiences and providing tips on how to break into the game. Among scouts who spoke to our group were Dom Green (Jets), Eloy Ledesma (Lions), Tom McConnaughey (Jaguars), Bob Morris (USFL’s Gamblers) and Rodrik David (formerly of the Falcons). All of them were very giving of their time and did so without any compensation.
  • Kudos also go out to the 13 players who arrived in Fort Worth as part of the Small School Showcase (the Marshals) and fought their way onto the Desperadoes roster after impressing scouts. They were Lincoln DE Arnold Mbembe, Westminster OB Brayden Thimons, La.-Monroe DT Caleb Thomas, Arkansas Tech OH Devontae Dean, Texas A&M-Commerce OB Demetrius Walker, Texas A&M-Commerce DE Celestin Haba, Nevada DE Phillip Huff, Sam Houston St. OT Jordan Boatman, Delta St. OT Nicolas Melsop, SE Oklahoma St. DC Ja’Lon Freeman, Utah Tech FS Darrius Nash, Sam Houston St. WO Cody Chrest and Carson-Newman WO Braxton Westfield.
  • I also learned of a new Panthers scouting intern Kaleb Leach, who earned his way to Carolina by developing an overseas scouting service called Europe’s Elite. All week, we preached to the CGSU class that sometimes the road to fulfilling your passion is one that’s less traveled. Going your own way after identifying an underserved market is a great way to succeed in football.

We’ll discuss what’s ahead during the all-star phase of the pre-draft period in today’s Friday Wrap. Register for it here.