Completing their first Senior Bowl practice on Tuesday, three of the North Team's offensive linemen are trying to catch the attention of at least a few NFL teams.
The Big Ten and Pac-12 are among the most physical conferences in college football, and it takes a physically tough player to last in the trenches on Saturdays.
Starting 12 games as a true freshman in 2012, Spriggs in total would appear in 47 games for the Hoosiers over the course of a four-season span.
On Tuesday, he got his first chance to display that toughness in front of scouts and personnel for all 32 NFL teams, taking part in his first practice at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
“It’s a huge opportunity, I mean not just for me, but for everybody,” Spriggs said. “You get the exposure and to get the relationships with all the different teams and even just the players here for further relationships.”
As he tries to quickly learn what the coaches want from him before Saturday’s game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Spriggs equated the offensive linemen’s work to that of a friendly competition.
They’re all trying to get better, but at the same time they’re trying to raise their own draft stocks as high as possible through soild individual performances.
“Yeah, there’s definitely competition on the other side of the O-line, but there’s competition on every O-line,” Spriggs said. “We’re working as a team to get better and we’re working as an O-line to get better.”
After individual drills, the North Team broke out into unit work where Spriggs lined up at right tackle next to Stanford guard Josh Garnett.
Garnett, the 2015 Outland Trophy Winner, is ESPN Todd McShay’s top guard in this year’s draft class (Insider subscription required) and the No. 7 rated offensive linemen .
The Puyallup, Wash., native was also a unanimous All-American selection.
“To be able to come out and compete with guys you see on Saturdays when you come back and watch SportsCenter and see these guys just wrecking it up, and their competition and their game-feel,” Garnett told Redskins.com. “To see these guys’ head up and to compete with them is just awesome.”
While he’s confident he can hold up in the passing game, too, Garnett considers his biggest strength right now run blocking.
“I feel like I get off the ball a little bit, which sometimes [opponents] use it against me a little bit it if get to head-heavy,” Garnett said. “But yeah, just coming off the ball, finishing plays, kind of bringing it every day, bringing that guy who is going to set the tone.”
Next to Garnett under center was Austin Blythe of Iowa.
Blythe started his college career at guard, playing their his freshman season before making a move over to center before his sophomore season.
While he is far from the biggest offensive lineman in this year’s class (6-foot-3, 290 pounds), Blythe wants to show NFL teams he has the makeup to be a successful professional player.
“I think I’m just going to give them an opportunity to see who Austin Blythe is,” Blythe told Redskins.com. “A guy who works hard, he’s dependable, he’s athletic, and he’s a guy who can play. Regardless of what people may say about my size, I think I can play football just the way I am. So just to come down here and have the opportunity to prove that to people is really good.”
Entering the NFL is often a grey area for NFL prospects, as they’re jumping from the comfort of their collegiate situations to an unclear future that could end in 32 different places or free agency.
But as he tries to steer his way towards a potential draft selection, Blythe is getting a little guidance from fellow University of Iowa product and current Washington Redskins guard
“Yeah I’ve talked to Brandon a little bit, just asking kind of what the prognosis is for center position in Washington and he says they might need one, so definitely an option,” Blythe said. “It’d be really cool, it’d be kind of ironic to head there with him, but we’ll see. Anywhere I go is going to be a really big opportunity for me and I’m going to work hard for it.”