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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Combine last step to NFL

    Former UA wide receiver Mike Thomas (10) tries to juke BYU defenders in the final moments of the Wildcats 31-21 Las Vegas Bowl win on Dec. 20 at Sam Boyd Stadium. Thomas, along with former offensive tackle Ebon Britton, will be try to improve his draft stock at the NFL Combine, which starts today in Indianapolis.
    Former UA wide receiver Mike Thomas (10) tries to juke BYU defenders in the final moments of the Wildcats’ 31-21 Las Vegas Bowl win on Dec. 20 at Sam Boyd Stadium. Thomas, along with former offensive tackle Ebon Britton, will be try to improve his draft stock at the NFL Combine, which starts today in Indianapolis.

    It takes a long and illustrious career, filled with impressive statistics and performances, to become a legend at the college football level.

    To be a high pick in April’s NFL Draft, however, sometimes all it takes is an impressive showing at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, a week-long talent demonstration that tests players’ abilities both physically and mentally for pro scouts.

    The Combine starts today and will take place in the Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium. Competing for Arizona are former wide receiver Mike Thomas and former offensive lineman Eben Britton, both of whom are expected to be first-day draft selections.

    Even so, history has shown that a performance in the two-day showcase can widely determine an individual player’s draft stock. Regardless, both Britton and Thomas don’t have any concerns in terms of nervousness.

    “”I am as prepared as I will ever be,”” Britton said in a telephone interview with the Daily Wildcat Tuesday. “”It is just one of those things where you have to go in there and take care of business. I have no doubt in my mind that I am ready to go and we’ll see what happens.””

    Thomas expressed the same feelings.

    “”I’ve been working pretty hard and all I can do is be ready for it. I am just going to go out there and do what I do,”” he said. “”You work so hard and now all you can do is hope things fall into place.””

    It wasn’t too long ago when an ex-Wildcat found good fortune in the workouts at the event when Chris Henry’s stock exploded after his performance at the 2007 version of the Combine.

    Criticized for leaving school early, before the NFL Combine, Henry’s stock wasn’t terribly high after splitting time with Chris Jennings during his last year in Tucson.

    Otherwise known as a “”Workout Warrior,”” or somebody who gets drafted higher than expected due to solid results at the event, Henry was eventually taken in the second round by the Tennessee Titans.

    Both Thomas and Britton are aware of what is at stake today at the Combine.

    “”I know what it’s all about, but all I can do is be ready for it. I have been praying about it and I am hoping for the best,”” said Thomas, the all-time receptions leader in the Pacific 10 Conference.

    Britton, a 6-foot-6, 310-pound tackle, could be found in many mock drafts as a first-round selection and one of the most highly-rated offensive linemen in the draft. Thomas, however, has been slotted as a third- or fourth-round pick, but could stand to prove himself even more.

    Though both players stood out in terms of performance on the field this past season, the Combine has also earned a nerve-racking reputation for mental tests it puts its participants through.

    The Wonderlic Personnel Test, a 12-minute, 50-question intelligence test, has drawn plenty of attention from both the media and NFL teams in terms of determining a player’s aptitude before the draft.

    “”All you can do is take mental reps,”” Britton said. “”It is just like going into the game. You need to prepare yourself.””

    But given the NFL Combine is an invitation-only event, not all the UA standouts from this past season will be participating.

    Despite writing his name on various pages in the Arizona record book, senior quarterback Willie Tuitama was not invited to workout in the Combine with the other 21 signal callers. The same goes for senior kicker Jason Bondzio, who had a record-breaking career with the Wildcats.

    Instead, both will continue to work out and participate in Arizona’s annual pro day, which takes place on the UA campus on March 14.

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