Friday, April 25, 2008


You are about to graduate from college in about three weeks.

Outside the impressive beer pong skills you displayed in your four years as an undergrad, your greatest claim to fame was the time you managed to write up your entire senior thesis over the course of two days, a case of Red Bull and three interstitial one-hour naps.

You’re still waiting for the final grade, but you are also waiting on a decision from one of the country’s top financial services firms (sorry to anyone reading this from Bear Stearns).

Your classmates are very talented and for the most part, high-achieving. Some already have a job waiting for them at the start of June while others are either headed straight to graduate school or head back home to join the family business.

Of course, there is the mix of slackers who switched majors every semester, spent their entire senior year higher than the clouds and attached themselves to their XBoxes. Reality would hit them at some point, if it had not already, but that’s no concern of yours. You have fall-back interviews to get, loans to pay off and bedroom back home to move back to.

So you look around and see where your peers and friends end up after Commencement. The aforementioned financial services, advertising, film, insurance, non-profit, teaching, high-tech, you name it. Some are working for Fortune 500 companies; some are all about Mom-&-Pop. Some rigorously comb through transcripts and background checks and some “get a good vibe”.

The science of hiring prospective employees fresh out of school doesn’t seem to be that exact when you think about it. You had classes with these people. You were in the same organizations with these people. You had gotten ridiculously wasted with these people. And boy, do you have some dirt on these people. You never had disciplinarian problems. You maintained a decent GPA in a fairly tough curriculum. You balanced work with school and a social life. You didn’t try to cheat the system by calling a couple of alums – Mom and Dad. You understood college was the next step to becoming a functioning member of society, not four years of just beer, drugs and sex with an occasional class here and there.

College was just a chance to develop an identity for yourself and you did just that. You had your moments of college stupidity, sure. Yet, your outgoing personality and relentless curiosity are two qualities that your potential employers say they seek. Not to mention, you can get the job done. You may have not been a Rhodes Scholar, but you are certainly more capable to survive in the real world than these folks.


Now, imagine you are a 6’5”, 275-lb. all-conference defensive lineman.

You are about to graduate from college in about three weeks.

You didn’t play beer pong as much, but you registered 29 ½ sacks in three years, most during your junior and senior years. You’re known for being the anchor for the top pass-rush in the conference, absolutely dominating opposing right tackles with a variety of stutter-steps and swim moves. You single-handedly destroyed State in November with four sacks, a tipped pass, and a fumble recovery that you ran back for a score.

You’ve had NFL scouts checking out your games since last year’s performance at the conference title game. A few marveled at your speed while others had been curious about what you could do with a few extra pounds.

As said, you were the anchor to the line, but there were a couple of potential Day 1 draft picks in that defense. Mock drafts from the media have the middle linebacker going in the late first round, the strong safety going off the board early and your opposite side defensive end going in the second or third round – that is if the character issues are brushed aside.

One league personnel man said that you looked great… in a down year for the conference. Between the twelve teams, twenty of the sixty possible draft-eligible players were selected last year. You could almost double that if you include the prior college football season. Because of scheduling, your team didn’t play Tech last year, which meant that you didn’t line up against the widely-regarded best offensive tackle in the nation at the time. Seven of the players drafted in 2007 have made some sort of impact for their teams, with two vying for Rookie of the Year awards. Though your team won its bowl game by 14, the conference champs were embarrassed in the Sugar Bowl and the other 4 schools lost by a combined 73.

With this doubt cast over you, you are looking around and wonder whose names would be called. Those mock drafts were almost 100% right about your teammates; San Francisco grabbed the linebacker at 29, the safety ‘slipped’ to Chicago at 12 and surprisingly, your line-mate will be headed to Oakland instead of New York because of a draft-day trade that gave the Raiders an extra third-round pick.

The mock drafts were full of… you - number 93 in college, number 206 at the Combine – were poked and prodded in Indianapolis. You – all-time school leader in sacks and tackles behind the line of scrimmage – were scrutinized heavily because of the lack of ideal bulk, despite adding ten pounds last spring. You – First-Team All-Conference – subjected to the insulting whims of some radio jerk in Pensacola because a couple of your opponents had first-year starters that weren’t exactly up to snuff yet in the NCAA. You – Preseason All-American – were laughed at from sea to shining sea about some damn Wonderlic score.

Certainly, your play from Pop Warner to college has done the talking. You stayed out of trouble and at least kept a passing interest in academics. You weren’t supposed to have started in your sophomore year, but when injuries happened, you stepped in and grew into the starting left defensive end for two years. You didn’t let outer circumstances disrupt your path to success. You made the most of the opportunity. You know that you can make an impact in the NFL.


How the hell did they know about the Wonderlic, anyway?

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