Today, we talk to St. Louis-based John Meehan of Platinum Football. John gives us a different perspective because he’s one of the handful of folks that passed the NFLPA exam last summer (the passage rate was about half of what it used to be), so he’s in his first year as an agent. When you’re first-year, unless you’re related to a top draft pick, you have no clout and no credibility, especially when you’re independent and not affiliated with a big firm. That’s what makes John — and dozens of ITL clients like him — so impressive and admirable. To some degree, he’s making a leap of faith. That takes courage. And yet I think he’s going to end the weekend with at least one, and maybe two, players on a 90-man roster, which is a real accomplishment for a first-year, independent agent.

I’ll turn things over to John now. He discusses what’s happened in the month of April, his clients, and the lessons he’s learned.

“Basically I feel like the last few weeks have been interesting because I think I have some major players that are all small-school guys. (Wide receiver) Juwan Brescasin (who played in the College Gridiron Showcase) is the biggest guy I’m representing, and he’s from Northern Illinois. He didn’t have big numbers, but he’s from Canada, so it’s a little different.

“I’ve been talking to a lot of scouts about one of my players that is getting a lot of interest, Jacksonville State OH Troymaine Pope. It’s exciting because I’m talking to a lot of NFL teams. Interest has been growing since his pro day, and that’s exciting, but I can’t be too excited about the players getting interest when there are other (clients) that are similar but that going to CFL tryouts and trying to get as many looks as possible but not getting any bites. So it’s been pretty crazy, but I’m very happy about the guys getting love. But it’s really hard because I won’t be content until I know that everyone I’m working for is on a roster somewhere.

“I think the one thing as a new agent that has surprised me the most, and it shouldn’t because you’ll find it in any business, is that interest differs depending on different personalities. I’m not on a first-name basis with scouts, but some of them will call players and talk to them, but when I call them, they’ll never pick up the phone. Other scouts will call (me) and talk about their interest and they contact me before they talk to (the player). So it’s really different. I don’t think you can peg it to one team or another. Since the (College Gridiron Showcase), the first game I went to, I had a lot of skepticism about scouts. None wanted to talk. They just wanted to do their job and take off, but once your player performs, there are lots of scouts that are open and honest with you and not as pretentious as one may have expected.

“I try to hit every (scout) I can about my clients. There’s a fine line between being annoying and being persistent. I want to not go to sleep without having done something for all my clients that day. I’ll hit them up every once in a while so they know I’m still working on things. I would say when my players got interest after pro days — and all my guys performed to the best of their abilities — I try to call everyone first, and then some will text back, or call back. I always try to get them on the phone first because I think it’s the best way to develop a relationship. If I can’t get them on the phone, I’ll shoot a text, and the greatest number respond to texts. If that doesn’t work, I’ll gently email them. So I work my way down from calling down to emailing.

“From my first year, what I would take away the most, is that your player is essentially the bargaining chip. If (scouts) want your player, they’re gonna call. If they don’t, they won’t pick up the phone. Some scouts have been polite (but don’t talk much), and some have real interest. I got a call late Friday night from a scout who’s on the West Coast, and we talked about my client. He was traveling for pro days, and he was just driving, so we talked for a long time. I mean, it helps out on the trips to talk to somebody when you’re driving. But if they want your client badly enough, they’ll talk to you.

“It’s almost person to person who responds to email, and it depends on the relationship you have with the scout. In speaking with teams and scouts, I’ve been able to realize there’s one degree of separation between you and people most of the time. I’d say 20 percent, 30 percent of the people I email ask for more information. I’d say about two-thirds, you never hear back from. Me coming from the legal world, I mean, I’m not a magician. I can’t make teams be interested, but I give my clients the most opportunities to be seen and give them a stage as much as possible to do so. Interviews, who knows who will read them? But it’s about how many times can you be seen, because if you’re good enough, its’ all about how many eyes you can get on them. I try to personalize emails for the organization so they know I’m not sending the same email to every coach and scout in the NFL.

“I think being a first-year guy, not having been through the process on my own, teams that are interested will have contacted my client or myself this week. I’ve gotten texts from teams that say a kid is on their radar, and some that are texting about every meeting and every time the kid comes up. As it gets later and later in the draft, I plan on checking in with my teams. The last couple days, I’ve shot out at least a hundred emails or more. It’s kinda like, given the amount of effort I’ve given to contact people over the last few days, I’d hope we’d get some feedback. I’m just trying to find a point of contact before the draft, and if I don’t, I’ll try to reach out to teams and hope they respond later in the draft.

“I think the other interesting part is that I’m representing guys from NAIA to D1, and you have to give your clients a realistic perspective. Some are realistic and would be happy with CFL, but others are expecting to be drafted, and if they don’t have a UDFA deal by the end of the weekend, they’ll be really upset.”