It is one week until the NFL Scouting Combine party starts in Indianapolis, and just over two months until the NFL Draft. I thought it would be a good time to check in on what Darron Thomas, LaMichael James, and other Oregon players are doing to get ready for the biggest job interview of their lives.
According to Bob Jones, Darron Thomas' high school coach, Thomas and James, along with Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and Oregon rover Eddie Pleasant are all in Los Angeles. Apparently, waiting for the NFL Draft to occur does not involve partying every night or sitting on the sofa eating bonbons.
They are working out six days a week—they get Sunday off—at the Home Depot Center, a sports complex in Carson, CA, just south of Los Angeles. The Home Depot Center bills itself as the nation's most complete training facility for Olympic, amateur and professional athletes.
According to Jones, Thomas' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has hired a trainer to work with Darron. Former NFL star quarterback Kenny Anderson (Cincinnati Bengals) is also working with Thomas on such skills as reading secondary targets and the mechanics of throwing the ball.
Players at the Home Depot Center also have separate trainers to help them work on interviews and specific physical workouts. Bob Jones said: "Darron is working really hard every day. He's swimming, running, working on mechanics, learning how to interview. Even his mother doesn't talk to him every day, he's working so hard."
According to Jones, Thomas is sharing an apartment with a wide receiver from Central Florida, somewhere near the beach.
And, while Thomas' mother and Jones went to watch Darron's girlfriend, Oregon sprinter Amber Purvis, compete, he stayed in California to keep working. BTW, if Thomas and Purvis ever have a child, please U of O, offer him/her a scholarship immediately.
I asked Jones where some of the other Oregon players were working out, and the only one he knew was that Cliff Harris—yes, I still consider Cliff to be an Oregon player, even though he was officially booted—is in Indianapolis. No word on what other Oregon Combine invitees Mark Asper, Josh Kaddu, and David Paulson are doing to prepare.
Thomas will arrive in Indianapolis on Thursday, and have his physical skills workout on Sunday. In between, he will take physicals, meet with team executives and coaches, and do whatever it takes to present his case. Jones said that Thomas is healthy and in good shape.
After the Combine, Jones said the players will return to California and continue training. At some point—the University of Oregon Athletic Department has not set a date yet—Oregon will host a "Pro Day." All Oregon players who have declared for the Draft will have another chance to work out for NFL coaches and scouts prior to the start of the NFL Draft on April 26.
On an interesting side note, Jones told me that Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III set the very same day for their Pro Day. Guess we'll see which NFL teams are really interested in which QB.
I asked Bob Jones, who is Darron Thomas' biggest cheerleader, why he thinks so many other QBs are touted by draft analysts ahead of Thomas. He replied, "the talking heads weren't paying attention to Darron because everyone assumed he was coming back to Oregon, and they don't want to look like they missed one. After he performs well, I predict they will say 'DT was a sleeper all along'."
How will Thomas do at the Combine? Jones thinks he will do very well, and he knows this young man almost as well as anybody. "You can't measure what's in a kid's heart," Jones said. "How they overcome adversity is important, and Darron doesn't let stuff bother him. His mother raised him right, and he doesn't whine about what he doesn't have or didn't have as a kid. He just works hard and perseveres."
Let's hope that Thomas, James, and all the Oregon players do well during their intense, four-day job interview next week.