We're just hours away from the Senior Bowl matchup between North vs South, with much at stake, aside from the final score.
Entering Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL for the first time on Monday, I immediately felt the business-like mentality of the players, knowing all eyes are on them throughout the week and will continue to be after today's game.
While the invitation to play in today's Senior Bowl (3:00 PM CST on NFL Network), is a great honor and appreciated by the players, the reality remains, with much power (national competition and exposure), comes much responsibility. And, it was obvious from day one, the players get "it".
The individual and team drills have been crisp throughout most of the week, guys have been focused, knowing the eyes of NFL general managers, coaches and scouts are fixated on their every move, seeking to find the next franchise-changing player, whether taken in the first round or the last.
NFL Network analyst Charles Davis put it best saying, "Remember, (Redskins RB) Alfred Morris (who played in last year's Senior Bowl) was a sixth-round pick, that's really the first round most people had him (on their draft boards)…..it worked out pretty well for Washington," Davis said. (Watch interview)
Morris finished the season with 1,613 yards and 13 TDs in 2012, helping the Redskins win the NFC East.
Whether or not the Senior Bowl players view themselves as the next Andrew Luck or the next Alfred Morris is irrelevant, compared to what they show on the field today and how they performed all week.
What's been great to see this week, in addition to the on-field play, is how the players are mixing business with pleasure. They know they are under a microscope, but are also enjoying the new friendships being developed with the guys they've faced during the season.
"It's been good," Oklahoma Sooners QB Landry Jones said. (Watch interview)
"It's interesting to see all the guys that you have met, through camps and through your time playing against different people and you actually get to see them face-to-face; it's been good seeing all of these guys."
But, the NFL is a business and that's how the players have treated this entire week, like a business trip.
The player applicants began their week-long networking campaign with a national football scouting weigh-in, prior to four days of practice, a walk-through yesterday, culminating with today's game.
While the NFL Draft is months away (April 25-27), the steps taken during this week signify the start of the players' post-collegiate playing days, which could bring them closer to potentially fulfilling their life-long dreams.