MOBILE—The 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl week commenced Monday morning with the annual weigh-in of the players taking part for the North and South squads.
If you've never heard about this, let us set the stage: a ballroom at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center is packed to capacity with NFL general managers, head coaches, scouts and personnel types. Players enter, in bicycling shorts and nothing else, from the right side of the room, check in with the emcee, who announces their name. Then, the player walks up to a stage, where his height is measured and yelled out to the crowd. He then takes about 10 steps to a scale, where he's weighed, and that number is also yelled to the crowd as well.
The NFL personnel all take down the numbers, and just over 100 total players filter through the ordeal. Needless to say, they were excited to practice in pads and clothing in the afternoon.
"Yeah, I heard about that (experience) from some of the guys who have already been through it," Arizona defensive lineman Brooks Reed said with a chuckle. "They said not to pee your pants when you go up there. But it was cool. They tried to cheat me on my height, but it was a cool experience."
Reed, who measured in at a shade over 6-2 instead of his previously listed 6-3, drew some oohs and ahhs from the scouts in the afternoon drills at Fairhope Stadium. He and the South practiced there, while the North squad went through drills at Ladd-Peeples Stadium, which is where both teams will practice for the remainder of the week, before playing the actual game on Saturday night there.
Reed, who was in a defensive line group that included Baylor's Phil Taylor, Sam Acho of Texas as well as Miami's Allen Bailey, played in Tuscon with current Texans defensive lineman Earl Mitchell and smiled when his former teammate was brought up in conversation.
"Oh man, Earl's awesome," Reed said. "I always talk to him and just ask questions about what his experience is like and he went through the whole process and kind of paved the road for me."
Taylor, who transferred to Baylor after playing two seasons at Penn State, thought his first day was productive. He enjoyed being thrown in with the high level of competition, and also thinks his skillset translates well at the NFL-level in both a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense.
"It's great because the guy that's next to you is just as good, if not better," Taylor said. "I play the one and the three very well, so it wouldn't be a big transition for me."
Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller finished up a successful collegiate career in 2010 with the Aggies, and he was quick to bring up the fact that he and his teammates helped bring about a return of the Wrecking Crew. Like Taylor, though, he wasn't about to pigeonhole himself as a 4-3 or 3-4 player at the next level.
"Wherever they want me at, I'll play at," Miller said. "I'll play offense if you want me to. I'm just ready to play and ready to fit in."
The South will practice Tuesday at Ladd-Peeples from 1:45 to 3:15 p.m., while the North will do so in the morning from 9:30 to 11.
*For more 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl coverage, check out the blogs on HoustonTexans.com by clicking here.