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April 10, 2011

The Vandervelde Chronicles

Like most graduating seniors, Julian Vandervelde is out looking for work. Of course the hiring process for a possible future NFL player is probably a little different than your average student, unless you were asked to run the 40 yard dash and three cone drills by a potential employer. In the final installment of the Vandervelde Chronicles, he talks about the draft process and what that has been like for him.

Epilogue: Flying Free

So what happens to a Hawk after we fly out into the real world? Well you can get a normal job like anyone else going through the normal application and interview process, we can go back to school and go the higher education route, or for a few of us who just can't let go of the game we can take a shot at the next level. Lots of money in a few short years coming right out of college, who would turn that down if they had the option? With that said, it's not the easiest route to take, but of course Hawkeyes don't do things the easy way, we do them the right way which is most often the hard way.

The draft experience is different for everyone who goes through it. I'm sure guys like Adrian Clayborn have relatively little stress within the process. Regardless of who his agent is, how his interviews go, or how he performed at the combine and pro-day his greatest concern may be whether he's going in the first or second round. Now for Ricky Stanzi, his workouts and interviews could land him anywhere from the first 3 rounds to the last 2 rounds. Tarp didn't get invited to the combine so his pro-day was remarkably important to get his name out there, which thankfully he was able to do. Christian Ballard, Karl Klug, Brett Greenwood, Brett Morse, we all have different concerns and a different experience, but some things still remained the same.

Until after pro-day we can expect workouts with very specific goals. 40 yd dash, shuttle, three cone, etc. Everything is scripted and you always know where you need to run. After pro-day workouts get longer and more related actual football because we have to be ready to go to mini camps and OTA's and actually play the game. With the off-season in full swing this is often the time when other former players come back from their respective NFL teams to work out with the strength staff, so seeing old friends and heroes from old Hawk teams is one of the perks. Everyone's under stress one way or another however. You have to go into an interview knowing that that coach or team is going to have some of your worst film cued up and you'll have to defend your honor. Some NFL guys are worried about being free agents, others about making the 53 man roster, and still others about just keeping their job. The stress is always there. I can't remember a time when I debated with myself over whether or not to eat a tenderloin breaded or grilled because of the thought that the breaded tenderloin might drop my 40 time by 1/100th of a second. After all, every millisecond counts.

I've been asked more times than I ever thought possible whether my multitude of interests would compromise my ability to play the game. Background checks, family history, hobbies, everything can be used against you. It's not a contest of who's the best a lot of the time, but a contest of who has the least amount of baggage. Still, at the end of the day it all comes down to one question: Can you play football? Come this fall, we'll find out for sure.


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