CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) - Penn State offensive lineman John Urschel will routinely provide a look at his journey leading up to the May 8 NFL draft in a series of diary entries. The all-Big Ten, third-team AP All-American has a Master's degree in math and was awarded the William V. Campbell Trophy as college football's top scholar-athlete. The 6-foot-3, 315-pound guard opens with a look at his preparation for the scouting combine, which begins today in Indianapolis:
As my Penn State football career ended, I made the trip to sunny San Diego.
For the past 6 weeks I have been training at Athletes Performance Institute in Carlsbad, California. My days were filled with intense training, both mentally and physically. I have one shot to make all my hopes and dreams come true, and want to do everything in my power to ensure that I am in the best possible position come the NFL draft in May.
The routine at API went like this:
Wake up at 6 a.m., the sight of palm trees out the window of my hotel room helps me to forget it's winter. It's a nice change for a guy who grew up outside Buffalo, N.Y., and then spent five years in State College. But there is much work to do. I walk across the street to the API building, a new addition to the more established facilities (Phoenix, Pensacola, Los Angeles). The equipment is flawless. There is a turf field and running track on site. I arrive at 7 a.m. and work on removing the soreness from the previous day.
My first workout of the day begins at 8 a.m. We go to the field and go through a rigorous warm-up. This, and every other combine workout, is led by speed and strength coach Brent Callaway, a former collegiate track star who now serves as one of the best combine prep coaches in the world. We do not simply run drills over and over. This is a science, and there is a formula to every event to obtain an optimal mark. Callaway is a master of this. The way this man talks you would expect him to have a Ph.D. in physics. Words such as lever, tension, momentum, vector, and energy dissipation are often heard. I feel right at home. He often jokes with me regarding my background in math.
After that we lift weights. This is not the typical bench, clean, squat lifting that I was a student of at Penn State. This lift serves to increase power and explosiveness, while also attending to stability and core strength. This work has improved my overall athleticism significantly.
Next, my offensive line coach arrives at the facility. I have the pleasure of being coached by the recently retired Hudson Houck, who most notably coached with the Dallas Cowboys, winning multiple Super Bowls. We have two goals: to prepare me for the offensive line drills I will face at the combine and, more importantly, to improve technique to prepare me for the NFL. From day one to today, the difference is stunning.
Lunch is planned by the nutritionists to optimize our performance. I continue to struggle to pronounce Quinoa correctly, like that guy in the beer commercial. I eat lunch while watching film of the drills with Houck. He sprinkles in football stories as we work. I am in awe of all this man has done.
Training finishes at 3 P.M. and it's off to the cold tub to recover. Danny Sorensen, a safety at BYU, and I have become cold-tub mates. He tells me stories of his wife, and life at BYU.
I eat dinner at the facility with my training mates and we share football stories, then hit the pingpong table. UCF quarterback Blake Bortles is unrivaled in his abilities. The guy is good at everything. Back at our rooms, we find ways to relax. Wisconsin receiver Jared Abbredaris and I often square off in trivia, via the iPhone app, QuizUp. I beat him in all things science, but he beats me in a fair amount of subjects as well.
The days were long, but enjoyable. I enjoy the newfound focus that can be devoted to football now that school is out for me. I am beginning to feel more and more like a professional athlete.
The combine will be my biggest job. But through the countless hours I have devoted to this end, I am no longer nervous. I am simply prepared.