Rodney Hudson acts as mentor to FSU prospect Zebrie Sanders

Posted Jan 26, 2012

Hudson and Sanders paired together for three seasons on the Florida State offensive line

MOBILE, AL – Chiefs offensive lineman Rodney Hudson remembers the Senior Bowl process well. It was just one year ago that Hudson was heading out to practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium as a member of the South’s all-star squad.

The environment in and around Senior Bowl Week is one that Hudson knows better than most.

“I know a whole lot about it,” said Hudson, who is a native of Mobile. “I played in it last year and growing up as a kid I came up to this almost every year. It’s exciting.”

Exciting, but nerve-racking.

Hudson was able to improve his draft standing last year in Mobile and has been in attendance at South team practices all week as a source of support for friend and former Florida State teammate Zebrie Sanders.

An All-ACC selection at right tackle, Sanders is a potential first-day draft pick. The 6-foot-7, 325-pound Sanders has been a starter for the Seminoles since his freshman season and owns experience at both tackle positions.

“I played with him for three years of my college career and I text him every now and then to see how things are going because I went through this process last year and it can be kind of nerve-racking sometimes,” Hudson said.

“There are nerves and you just want to do well. You are here going against some of the best guys from around the country. You just want to do so well that you put pressure on yourself to succeed.”

Hudson isn’t difficult to spot in Mobile, surrounded by much smaller scouts and personnel men in the bleachers at Ladd-Peebles. Like the evaluators, he’s put himself in a prime location to watch Sanders handle one-on-one drills, inside run and pass protection periods.

Aside from exchanging pleasantries with Bill Muir and other members of the Chiefs coaching staff, Hudson keeps his eye on Sanders from start to finish before meeting with him after practice.

“I told him to just put your best foot forward, because at the end of the day if you put your best foot forward you’re more than likely to get the results you want,” said Hudson. “You can live with it if you put your best foot forward.”

Hudson should know.

A second-round pick of the Chiefs last year, the former Florida State All-American looks poised to become Kansas City’s starting center next year. He made his first career start at left guard last season as an injury replacement for Ryan Lilja and saw playing time on the offensive front throughout the final month of the 2011 campaign.

But when the Chiefs went down to Mobile last year, they were looking to see more from Hudson than they’d already watched on tape.

“With Rodney, I think we saw a number of things down here,” Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli remembered. “We got a chance to see him live and in person. When you see him on tape, from a stature standpoint, he doesn’t necessarily look the part. But when you got to see him play live, not just workout at the Combine or things like that, Rodney showed some good things.”

The most decorated offensive lineman to come out of FSU’s football program, Hudson left a lasting impact on Sanders and the rest of his former teammates on the Seminoles offensive line. His support at Senior Bowl practices is appreciated and isn’t taken for granted.

“Going through college the first three years, Rodney was somebody we really looked up to,” said Sanders. “He just did everything right. The people that were going against him just couldn’t get off him and couldn’t get off the blocks, so I just tried to pick up everything he was doing.”

Sanders would love to team with Hudson once more in Kansas City, but knows he has someone to help him through the draft process regardless of where he ends up.

“He’s kind of been like a mentor to me, always texting me,” said Sanders. “He texted me after the bowl game and he’s been texting me now.  Anything that I need to work on, he’s telling me about it and he’s helping me through this process. He’s a great friend.”

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