Former University of Richmond football players Martin Parker and Justin Rogers will head to the NFL Scouting Combine next month after their appearance in the East vs. West Shrine game in Orlando on Jan. 22.
The combine, held in Indianapolis from Feb. 23 to March 1, is a chance for NFL recruiters and coaches to assess more than 300 of the top college football players in the nation who are eligible for the 2011 draft.
Parker, a defensive lineman and fifth-year senior, sat with trainers in New York on Friday before flying to Orlando for what he called the biggest step in his career.
The East vs. West Shrine game is his first chance to prove that a Richmond Spider from New Haven, Conn., can hang with the players from the larger state schools like the University of Kentucky and Texas Christian University, he said.
Rogers, a senior cornerback, said the East vs. West game was "icing on the cake" after he had received his invitation to the combine and was looking forward to the extra opportunity to showcase his talent.
After the East vs. West game, they will be evaluated by top executives, coaching staffs, player personnel departments and medical personnel from all 32 NFL teams at the combine.
"The nerves are starting to come, so I'm focusing on being mentally prepared," Parker said.
Parker is hoping his agility and speed will allow him to finish in the 4.95 second range for the 40-yard-dash. The behind-the-scenes interactions with the coaches and recruiters would take some getting used to, Parker said.
Parker said the most important thing was to not let his nerves get the best of him, but to enjoy the journey that so few people were invited to take.
Parker and Rogers follow other Spider football players such as linebacker Paris Lenon and running back Tim Hightower of the Arizona Cardinals, and defensive lineman Lawrence Sidbury of the Atlanta Falcons.
Rogers said his former teammates and good friends who had made it to the NFL had called to congratulate him on his invitation.
"They've opened up the doors for guys coming out of Richmond," Rogers said.
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Rogers said he had not been anticipating any particular drills for the combine, but was just grateful for the opportunity to go. His dream is to go to the NFL and he is committed to doing whatever it takes to get there, he said.
Parker would be happy with any chance to play in the NFL, but his ideal position would be with the New England Patriots, he said.
Richmond football coach Latrell Scott -- whose first round of coaching at Richmond included recruiting both Parker and Rogers -- said he was expecting great things from both players.
Parker was valuable as an athletic player who can "wreck a game," Scott said. He said the NFL was looking for solid defensive linemen, and Parker would have the advantage in that area.
"Rogers will be looked at as a young man who can play a multitude of positions," Scott said. "His speed and athleticism should get him far."
For both players, this opportunity is a reward for all the hard work they put in over the years, Scott said. He added that both Parker and Rogers had been well prepared by the coaching staff at Richmond.
"If they continue to prepare, the sky is the limit for them both," Scott said.
Contact reporter Brittany Brady at email@example.com
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