The 9th annual Capital Preservation Partners ITL Combine Seminar Presented by Sure Sports

I’m pretty excited about our ninth annual seminar. I’m excited about our partners; I’m excited about our program; and I’m excited about seeing so many friends and clients. I’m also excited about the new venture we’ll be introducing next week, The Scouting Network.

I wanted to use this space to provide a quick look at the agenda for Wednesday (7 p.m., Room 126 of the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis).

  • 6 p.m.: We’ll start with networking for an hour before we officially kick things off. We’ve expanded the invitation list a bit this year from previous years, and we’ve already got more confirmed attendees with five days to go than we had last year.
  • 7 p.m.: The winner of the top 2017 Draft Class Award will be announced, and a representative from that team will accept the award, provide a few thoughts on the team’s selections and process, and answer a couple of questions from the audience. Want to know which team won, and who’ll be representing the team? We’ll be announcing that this evening in our Friday Wrap. You can register for it here. It’s free.
  • 7:15 p.m.: Our title sponsor, Leo Gjoni of Capital Preservation Partners, will welcome the audience and introduce himself and his service.
  • 7:20 p.m.: Shawn Zobel of Zobel Sport Consulting will introduce our new venture, The Scouting Network. Shawn and I hope to make the Network the place for people in the football scouting and evaluation business — college personnel directors, all-star game organizers, and NFL scouts and former scouts — to learn more about the profession, make and renew acquaintances, and otherwise solidify their respective places in the game. Shawn will lead The Scouting Network in addition to his other projects.
  • 7:30 p.m.: I’ll return to the podium to recognize some of our guests, then I’ll introduce our panel of former NFL scouts.
  • 7:35 p.m.: The members of our panel will each lead things off with a brief summary of their respective careers in football and how they got started. Then they’ll field questions from our audience on the business, where it’s going, and other related topics. Our panel will include Matt Boockemeier, who’s worked with the Vikings, Packers and Saints as well as in the UFL and CFL; James Kirkland, who’s the Director of Player Personnel at Illinois after an NFL evaluation career that included work with the Browns, Titans, Falcons and BearsMatt Manocherian, who was with the Browns and Saints and who now serves as the Director of Football Development for Sports Info Solutions; and Bob Morris, who’s worked with the 49ers and Browns and coached at the college level for more than two decades. Shawn will moderate.
  • 8:45 p.m.: Shawn will deliver brief closing remarks. We hope to wrap things up by 9 p.m. at the latest.

We’re really excited and feel it’s going to be a fun and informative night for anyone in the football business. We’ve opened it up to all members of ITL as well as other members of the football community on the college and pro side.

Though it’s invitation-only, we have limited spots available for people interested in the business. Want in? We’re all about helping people get a leg up on a career in the business. Email us here and we’ll try to work you in.

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Taking a Look at Who’s Signing Whom in the ’18 Draft Class

For the most part, the end of January marks the end of the signing period for any draft class. At that point, all-star games are over, combine prep for most players is a month old, and with a few exceptions — in this year’s case, Louisville QB Lamar Jackson and Alabama PT J.K. Scott — everyone going to the combine has representation.

That’s why the list of players signed to SRAs through the end of January provides an interesting snapshot of the draft class as seen by agents and the industry at large. Though the number of signees should still swell by at least 50 percent over the next couple months, and though there are still signed players out there that haven’t popped on the NFLPA’s master list, for the most part, the players that will be signed have been signed.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the draft class so far.

  • We counted 27 contract advisors this year with at least 10 signees in the ’18 draft class. They are Evan Brennan (29); Tyrone Barnes (27); James Krenis (25); Harold Lewis and Jimmy Sexton (tied at 18); James ‘Bus’ Cook (14); Derrick Fox and Andrew ‘Buddy’ Baker (each with 13); Ed Bailey (12) and Joel Segal (12 each); Jordan Byrd, Carter Chow, Rachel Dahlen, Craig Domann, Brian Levy, Brian Mackler, Justin Vititoe, Ed Wasielewski, Cameron Weiss and Don Yee, all with 11; and seven agents with 10 each: Patrick Collins, Pat Dye Jr., Todd France, Matthew Glose, David Rich, Justin VanFulpen and Robert Walker.
  • While every year a subset of the new agent class takes Year 1 off, hoping to get an early jump on the coming class, two of the names on the above list are rookie agents. Both Atascadero, Calif.-based Dahlen of Brand Sports Management and Buffalo, N.Y.-based Glose of Priority Athletes took a ‘damn the torpedoes’ approach as new contract advisors and signed a healthy-sized class.
  • Brennan and Krenis came out of nowhere to zoom to the top three through January. At the same time last year, each had six clients, while Barnes, last year’s leader, had 20.
  • Krenis is especially of note given his willingness to go over, around and through to sign a player. We counted seven different SRA arrangements for Krenis, including signing two clients by himself. He shares the SRA with Brennan on 23 of his 25 signees.
  • Rockville, Md.-based Scott Bergman had 14 last year through the end of January, and has been a regular leader in the client count over the past 3-4 years. This year, however, he has one signee as of the end of January.

It’s important to understand that simply signing a player doesn’t represent victory, and one could even argue that big classes are a significant negative. Very often, agents signing multiple players are simply trying to increase their odds of finding one who can make a roster. They often find that sizable draft classes are an albatross after the draft when totaling training costs and handling endless phone calls from undrafted and unsigned players asking, ‘what are you hearing?’

Still, taking inventory of SRAs signed, and who’s signing them, is one way to see how agents work, recruit and risk in the modern game.

For more on the 2018 signing class as well as everything else associated with the inside of the game, make sure to sign up for the Friday Wrap. It’s free, and read by nearly 100 members of the NFL scouting community each week, as well as dozens of agents and wealth managers who are wired into the game.

How the Eagles Built a Front Office That Built a Champion

Lost in last weekend’s pre-Super Bowl hypefest was a story in the Baltimore Sun with a hidden Eagles subtext. In the story, which announced that GM Ozzie Newsome would hand the reins to Assistant GM Eric DeCosta after the 2018 season, was this paragraph:

“The Ravens have struggled in recent years with losing scouts such as Joe Douglas, Andy Weidl, Ian Cunningham and T.J. McCreight. All four currently work in the front office of the Philadelphia Eagles. . . They had 55 years of working experience combined in Baltimore.”

It’s worth noting that the Eagles won this year despite going against the NFL hiring grain in almost every way when it comes to how its front office was crafted. To wit:

  • Owner Jeffrey Lurie pulled off the unusual move of demoting the de facto GM, Howie Roseman, while keeping him in the building. Equally surprising: Roseman accepted the exile, then returned stronger and better after a year of growth on the business side.
  • When hiring GMs, the league tends to pick from the Packer, Seahawk or Patriot tree. Two of the last four GMs hired in the last two months (Cleveland’s John Dorsey and Green Bay’s Brian Gutekunst) were well-rooted in the Packers’ ways, while the three hired in 2016 (Miami’s Chris Grier, Detroit’s Bob Quinn and Tennessee’s Jon Robinson) came off the Patriots’ branches. But the Eagles have gone their own way. Except for Senior Personnel Executive Trey Brown, none of their senior executives are from those three organizations.
  • You could argue that the Eagles put as much emphasis on the pro side of scouting as any team in the league. While most teams put most weight on the college side, the Eagles have six scouts with ‘pro’ in their title. While numbers aren’t available for other teams, that total is likely to be among the highest, if not the highest, in the league.
  • Unlike teams that rely on continuity in their scouting staff, the Eagles have been aggressive about making changes until finding the right mix. Joe Douglas, the V.P. of Player Personnel, has been with the team less than two years. Assistant Director of Player Personnel Andy Weidl was hired the same day as Douglas. Director of College Scouting Ian Cunningham, Player Personnel Executive J. McCreight and Director of Pro Scouting Dwayne Joseph all have two years or less in the Eagles’ front office.

Winning a Super Bowl often means boldly going in a direction that defies conventional thinking in a league full of copy cats. Credit Owner Jeffrey Lurie with having the courage to go with his gut and trust his instincts in assembling a winning front office.

For a different look at how the Eagles built their roster into a Lombardi Trophy-worthy outfit, take a look at Shawn Zobel’s analysis of the team. His piece leads off this week’s ITL Friday Wrap. It’s free, and it goes out to more than 4,000 people across the football business each week. It’s free, and you can register for it here.

Shawn is a scout with experience working in the NFL at the team level and for the league office. He owns TheSidelinePass.com and Zobel Sports Consulting; hosts the Football Headquarters Podcast with 1500 ESPN Twin Cities; and has won three state championships as an assistant at Eden Prairie (Minn.) High School.

 

 

 

Calling an Audible: Four Questions with James Walker

One of the best things about going out on the all-star circuit is the people I meet. Pretty much, if you’re at the Senior Bowl, you’re either part of the business or you’re hoping to become part of it. One of the people I met at this year’s trip to Mobile is part of both of those groups.

James Walker recently left ESPN to become a part of Adeptus CPAs. Moving from sports media to numbers-crunching is not a particularly common path, so I wanted to dig into why and how he wound up with Adeptus. My questions and his answers follow.

Why leave sports media for sports accounting?

“The timing couldn’t be better. It’s no secret that sports media is having issues. Recently ESPN, my former employer, had two rounds of layoffs last April and November that impacted hundreds of talented people. Fortunately I wasn’t part of those layoffs. But it did force me to rethink my career and decide if this was a battle I wanted to fight for the next 25 years, because I’m still in my 30s. Over the summer I decided getting out the business entirely was the best long-term play. So I began discussing this with my business contacts in August and received some good feedback and interest. I was very happy to ultimately land with Adeptus CPAs.”

Why was Adeptus a good match?

“They are creative and forward thinkers, and so am I. What other CPA firm would hire a sports reporter without accounting experience? What longtime sports reporter, who spent the past decade at ESPN, would give up his life’s work to join a CPA firm? It took outside-the-box thinking on both sides to make this work. Adeptus was willing to create a new position for me as lead recruiter, which I am very grateful for. And I am leveraging my 15 years of pro sports experience, contacts, access and credibility into accounting. We have a good long-term vision for where things are headed and are very excited.”

What are some of those long-term goals?

“We want to be the go-to accounting firm for pro athletes, coaches and executives. That’s the primary goal. Currently we are doing most of our business in the NHL and MLB. I will recruit all pro sports but a major objective is to boost our NFL clientele, which is in my wheelhouse. Something that was really exciting while researching the sports accounting industry is there is no single, dominant player in the marketplace. There is not a CAA for sports accounting, for example, who already has a gigantic chunk of the industry. Most of the work is spread out. I very much believe in the quality of work and team we have at Adeptus. So why not us?”

How will you look back at your reporting career?

“Very fondly. No doubt there will be things I miss, such as covering the big games and interesting stories. But I accomplished everything I wanted and more in sports reporting. I covered four Super Bowls, the Pro Bowl, NBA Finals, major college sports and did national television and radio hundreds of times. I traveled all across the country and worked at the No. 1 sports network for 10 years. Throughout my life I’m usually self-aware when it’s time to make important changes, and this is another example of that. Fortunately I still get to be involved in sports but in a different capacity.”

Who Drafted Best in 2017?

If there’s one thing I think the sport has lacked, it’s an affinity group, a trade organization, a body for those in personnel. I’m not talking about some kind of fan-based organization, but a real society for people in the business akin to the Pro Football Writers of America, the Sports Lawyers Association or the AFCA.

I was discussing this on Wednesday at the Senior Bowl with a longtime friend, Shawn Zobel of Zobel Sports Consulting, and we decided we should do something about it. We’re working on ideas and trying to decide how to approach it. Along the way, we got to talking about what team had the best draft in 2017, and we came up with these five teams. I’ll list them alphabetically and try to state each team’s best case.

Bears: I think there was some thought the Bears might make big changes in their front office around this time of year going into the ’17 season, but you have to hand it to GM Ryan Pace. He had the courage to stand up to the naysayers and draft one-year wonder QB Mitch Trubisky, and based on one season, it looks like a great move.  But it wasn’t the only one. The Bears landed two big players in the fourth round in FS Eddie Jackson and OH/KR Tarik Cohen.

Jaguars: The Jags got instant starters out of their first-rounder (OH Leonard Fournette) and second-rounder (OT Cam Robinson), plus promising rotational pieces in the third round (DE D.J. Smoot) and fourth round (WO DeDe Westbrook). Oh, by the way, they went from 3-13 and last in the AFC South to the AFC Championship game this season.

Saints: Marshon Lattimore. Alvin Kamara. We maybe needn’t go on, but we will. The team also drafted starters OT Ryan Ramczyk and FS Marcus Williams, as well as key contributor DE Trey Hendrickson in turning a franchise that had gone 7-9 three straight seasons — with Drew Brees — into one answered prayer away from the NFC Championship Game. You could argue that the ’17 draft even saved the team from having to draft a starting QB in 2018.

Texans: It wouldn’t be a discussion of the draft if it didn’t involve some projection, right? Think about what happens if QB Deshaun Watson doesn’t go down after six starts. If the Texans only had that one pick, after rolling the dice to trade up, you could argue they had the best draft, especially if he continued his brilliance over a complete season. However, the team also hit on IB Zach Cunningham in the second round, as well as OH D’onta Foreman (another injury casualty) and several other picks. Houston’s won-loss record masks a tremendous draft class.

Vikings: If you read this blog regularly, you know that we hold Minnesota’s front office in pretty high regard, and the ’17 draft class was another good one, though, again, it requires projection. Would KC’s Kareem Hunt and Kamara have stolen all the rookie rusher glory if Dalvin Cook, whom the team got in the second round, doesn’t go down in Week 4? And that’s to say nothing of rookie OC Pat Elflein, who stepped right in and helped make the Vikes’ OL a strength throughout the season? They also drafted a starter at weak side LB, Ben Gedeon, in the fourth round.

Shawn and I will be putting these contenders to a vote with our friends in the scouting community as well as in college personnel departments across the land, and we’ll announce the results at the NFL combine in about a month.

In the meantime, who do you like? Who did we leave out? Let us know in the comments, hit me up on Twitter, and/or listen in today as Sirius XM Radio’s Orlando Alzugaray and I give our votes on Mad Dog Radio (channel 82) at 5:30 p.m. ET today. You can also vote in our poll.

 

 

Notes from the All-Star Trail, Part II — Jan. 2018

I spent Sunday through Wednesday in Mobile this week for the Senior Bowl. It’s always the best week of the year, the game’s ‘outdoor party.’ Everyone from around the game is there, and it’s a relaxed atmosphere. What’s more, the people of Mobile are hospitable and engaging and the hotel staff is excellent.

Here are a few stories, observations and items from Mobile.

  • I know a lot of people who read this blog are hoping to work in the NFL someday. If you do — or if you just want to go to the game to see what all the fuss is about — make sure you’re there Monday to Thursday. Scouts start showing up Monday night and leave Wednesday or Thursday, and most agents follow them. It always amazes me when people who should know better arrive Thursday and leave after the game. By Thursday, the show is ending.
  • Here’s a story from this week’s game. A player was strolling through the lobby of the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel when he stopped briefly to talk to a financial advisor. He was immediately confronted by a scout who claimed he’d sent four texts to the player requesting an interview. After the player acknowledged that he’d received the texts, the exasperated scout asked why he hadn’t responded. The player essentially responded with a shrug. This is a prospect with fifth- to sixth-round grades, yet when he slides out of the draft this spring, he’ll likely blame his agent.
  • There were four players — Southern Miss OH Ito Smith, Troy QB Brandon Silvers, Kansas St. WO Byron Pringle and Florida St. SS Nate Andrews — represented by rookie agents. In a business where the richest agencies continue to get richer, it’s refreshing to see newer contract advisors getting a chance.
  • We’ve got four former NFL scouts lined up to provide a panel of experts at our 2018 ITL Combine Seminar, set for Wednesday, Feb. 28, in Indianapolis. We’ll have more details next week. For now, we’re still finalizing our lineup and locking down our venue. We think it’s going to be very special for everyone interested in scouting and evaluation.
  • I asked a scout who attended the Senior Bowl this year about the talent level, which was criticized by many this year. Here was his response: “There were . . . 30 players who declined invites for various reasons. Take the 90 juniors (who left last year and were drafted or signed post-draft), plus the 30 seniors who did not show up, and you have a lot of players who will be drafted in the first three rounds. The Senior Bowl is now a bowl game with a lot of mid-round and lower draft choices.” That’s sad, but it’s a sign of the times.
  • By the way, we’ll have a detailed look at the players who had the best week as judged by the ITL Scouting Department (made up of former NFL scouts) in today’s Friday Wrap, which will be out this evening. It’s free, and you can sign up for it here.

What Would a Scouting Association Look Like?

Last week in this space, I wondered why there was no society for people in personnel and scouting. There’s no trade association where people can meet and network, and maybe even get job tips. This seemed to spark interest, so I thought I’d flesh out what I’d think such an organization would involve and offer to members.

Here are my thoughts.

  • You can’t start an affinity group without establishing guidelines. I’d want to develop a ‘club’ for people who either (a) currently had jobs in scouting, (b) at one time had held jobs in scouting at the NFL level, or (c) were currently working personnel jobs at FBS schools. This makes for a rather limited group, and perhaps this would be expanded, but to me, the group loses its identity if half of the members are wannabe scouts rather than actual ones. Maybe I’d open it to people working in scouting in indoor leagues and overseas leagues, as well. I’d have to think about it some.
  • Obviously, any kind of serious interest group has its own seminar or convention. Any serious gathering of scouting professionals would have such an event. Choosing a date would be important, so we’d have to schedule it at a time that members of college personnel staff could attend. I’ve been chewing on this schedule and looking at potential times. It looks like the best chance to bring everyone together would be late July or early August, immediately before players return for camp.
  • Seminars would have speakers from the game that could address topics related to scouting and evaluation. We set up the template for that earlier this month with the College Gridiron Showcase Scouting Academy presented by Inside the League. We’re working on getting the film for that event and putting it online. We had four former scouts that spoke about the job of scouting and the life of a scout, and it was outstanding.
  • We already have several interviews with scouts on my site, Inside the League. We’ve interviewed former Cowboys scout Jim Hess, who helped ‘discover’ QB Tony Romo; former 49ers scout Oscar Lofton, who has some good stories about legendary DC Deion Sanders; former Saints scout Barrett Wiley, who describes how Saints Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson had a role with his getting a job in scouting; and several others. These are all quite lengthy, relaxed and conversational. They are a lot to listen to for most general football fans, but I’d think this kind of video (or podcasts) might be a key part of a society for scouting enthusiasts.
  • Every organization worth its salt has to have some kind of awards as a way of bringing its members together. I’ve always wondered why no one honors the team that has the best draft each year. That would seem to be a fun way to unite members and give them something to debate. We’d definitely make that an annual ritual.
  • Naturally, any such organization would also provide some kind of jobs network. I’m the first one to say that finding employment in scouting is not very linear, and quite different from other jobs. Still, to be an honest organization, we’d have to at least give it a try, and we would.
  • There’d be a cost to join, but we’d keep it low. I’d think $75 would be affordable for most anyone.
  • As we moved forward, I’d expand the number of people eligible to join, or maybe start alternative groups for aspiring scouts, students, etc.

What do you think? Do these ideas seem valid? Am I way off base? Is it a good start, but you think I might be missing something? Please let me know on Twitter or even via email. Thanks for reading.

Notes from the All-Star Trail — Jan. 2018

January is always a crazy time for me. On one hand, it’s the best time of the year because I get to get out and see all the people I text and email the other 11 months of the year. On the other, it’s incredibly busy, with so much information to gather and publish. And it’s tough being away from the family for almost the whole month.

Today, though, let’s focus on the positives. Here are a few thoughts gathered from conversations I’ve had through Week 1 of my annual Amuck in America tour.

  • On Tuesday, a couple of agents asked me if scouts would be sticking around until Wednesday, the third day of workouts at the College Gridiron Showcase in Addison, Texas. I knew why they were asking — their clients were looking to skip Wednesday’s workout, with the excuse that no NFL teams would be there. What’s frustrating is that though I’m super-proud of our game, we (the organizers of the game) are not at a point where we have a roster full of first-rounders. These kids need to play every chance they get, even if it impresses only a handful of people. When players immediately start asking if they can skip workouts, it makes me wonder if they love football. And if you’re not a Top 100 prospect, you really need to exude a love of football.
  • Today I had a long conversation with a financial advisor who, after years of pursuing NFL clients, gave it up this year. I called him to pick his brain about what makes it so hard to succeed in the game, and along the way, he shared something with me that I hadn’t thought of. There was a time, he said, when he’d discuss his NFLPA certification openly with his clients, but no more. Now he has to pick his spots because the cache is gone, and it’s all because of — you guessed it — the decision by so many players to kneel during the anthem. He works with plenty of retired and pre-retired professionals from an older generation, and while they accept the players’ actions intellectually, it’s difficult to stomach on an emotional level. That’s something I hadn’t thought of: that, to some degree, the NFL has become so toxic that it’s splashing on the non-football business of some people in the game. That’s not good.
  • Lately I’ve been mulling joining the Pro Football Writers of America. It doesn’t really benefit me, per se, and I don’t really think of myself as ‘media’ in the traditional sense, but I’ve been kicking it around. At any rate, it got me thinking — why isn’t there a professional organization for current, former and aspiring NFL scouts? Why isn’t there a body that rewards and honors scouts that excel, or helps gather information on the profession, or even helps show the ropes to those who want to work for NFL teams some day? It’s something I’ve been mulling for a while now. Think it’s a good idea? A dumb one? Would you be interested if I started such a society? Hit me up on Twitter (@InsideTheLeague) with your ideas.

Training Day: Joseph Potts of Top Speed Strength and Conditioning

Today, we continue our Training Day series with Joseph Potts, founder of Top Speed Strength and Conditioning just outside Kansas City. Joe brings a rich history of speed training on the professional sports level, including time with the hometown Royals as well as time spent training NFL athletes. His work bringing down 40 times by avoiding fads and relying on proven methodology is one reason we invited him to be part of the ITL family.

Read on for Joe’s insights on training and the combine prep space.

Top Speed Strength and Conditioning is based just outside of Kansas City, which is well outside the Sun Belt where most top combine prep facilities operate. How is this a challenge for you? Are there any benefits?

“Obviously, the winter weather can be a challenge, but outside of that, there’s not much difference. We’ve got a good hill for uphill sprint work as well as access to local football fields and track facilities. With agents sending a high majority of prospects to train in warmer states, one benefit is that guys who train here get more one-on-one interaction.”

Your resume includes extensive work with the Royals, where your speed techniques led to incredible success stealing bases in the team’s farm system. What are the parallels between teaching speed in baseball vs. football? Are there differences?

“In baseball, a majority of our start work was from the “base-stealing stance,” which is similar to the setup for the 5-10-5 shuttle. Outside of that, there isn’t much of a difference. It’s all about coaching for maximal movement efficiency and increasing force output into the ground. That’s pretty applicable across the spectrum of all sports when it comes to speed development.”

What’s the greatest challenge facing the modern speed trainer? Is it gaining a player’s trust? Is it getting his attention? Is it educating him on what it takes to really polish his skill-set? Something else?

“The biggest modern-day challenge is probably educating prospects on what to avoid. Social media has made it easy for trainers, ‘footwork’ gurus, and apparel companies to put together hype videos and shove a load of (crap) down a prospect’s throat. A few years ago, it was altitude training masks, which have since been debunked, and nowadays it seems to be ‘speed ladder gurus’ working as modern-day snake oil salesmen. What many young prospects don’t realize is that time is a precious commodity, and time spent practicing inefficient or ineffective training methods can impact the returns from the overall training. That’s why we try to stress smart training practices to our guys. It certainly paid off this year as guys like (Top Speed clients) Albert Wilson (Chiefs), Terrance Mitchell (Chiefs) and Dexter McDonald (Raiders) all had career years.”

Having trained dozens of NFL players as well as MLB players, what do they have in common besides outstanding physical traits?

“The ones I’ve worked with who were highly successful seemed to carry a chip on their shoulder. My theory is that this helped them avoid complacency. Many of them are also hyper-competitive, which, again, helps to avoid becoming complacent. One of the worst things an athlete can do is feel like they’ve ‘made it’ and relax, because in sports, there’s always someone out their gunning for your spot.”

 

Training Day: Corey Taylor of CTSP Sports Performance

Today, with most bowl games over and combine training under way across the country, we continue our Training Day series with Corey Taylor CTSP Sports Performance in Louisville. Corey is no joke as a trainer and has carved out a successful niche in the business despite being based far away from Miami, Los Angeles and other popular places for combine prep.

You make it clear during training that you have a regimen, it works, and you don’t deviate from it, no matter the player. How does that affect your relationship with players, positively and negatively? 

“It has a positive effect as we develop a close relationship due to the mutual respect we have as well as respect and trust in the training process. I let my players see my true passion for coaching and they know I give them everything I have in every session. Training at my place is not for everyone. We have a culture and a process that has been very successful, so if it’s not a good fit and they are not willing to commit and trust the process, then I’ll send the player home. I can’t afford to allow one player to ruin the process for my other guys. Too much on the line to be lost!”

When a player has to depart for all-star play, is that a positive or negative for a player’s ability to improve his body and skills? 

“I think it affects the combine invitees more than pro day guys. If a player goes to a late bowl game and has an all-star invitation, there is very little room for error in their training process. Most of the time it only leaves combine guys 4-6 weeks to get dialed in and make improvements. That’s why you see a lot of players improve their numbers at their pro day because of the additional preparation time.”

Players often build a stronger bond with their trainers during combine prep than their agents, financial planners, or other key advisors. What do you attribute that to? 

“Trust! These guys are spending 8-10 weeks with us and are essentially putting their careers in our hands. There must be a strong bond and trust so they are not only physically but mentally prepared.”

What’s different, good or bad, about training in Louisville? Are there pluses? Minuses? 

“A good thing about training in Louisville is there are less distractions and I am able to create an environment for laser-like focus to get players prepared for the biggest interview of their lives. There are no minuses. Louisville is not a sexy place to train but it’s a time for the players to focus on their one opportunity to make it to the league. Their job is to prepare both physically and mentally for the combine/pro day. There is a lot of investment in these kids so there is no time for vacation. It’s money time!”

In the last five years, would you say the combine prep business has changed for the better or worse? 

“I believe it has gotten worse.. I don’t see how you can give players the quality of training they need to dominate their combine/pro day when you have 30-50 guys in a training facility. Players also get so much bad information on training. Negative things get said about training at my facility because I only take 6-8 guys each year and not 30-50. However, every player that trains with me makes notable improvements on their 40 and other tests.”