BY MIKE VORKUNOV
It's not easy being an NFL Draft prospect, but some of them have let us behind the curtain and agreed to be part of a journal series leading up to the Draft.
Kevin Haslam, from Mahwah, stayed home to play his college ball at Rutgers. After bouncing between positions he settled in at right tackle, where he started from the middle of his junior year on forward. ESPN Scouts Inc. has Haslam ranked as their 20th best offensive tackle, while DraftCountdown.com has him as No. 14 at the position.
Since January 4th Haslam has been preparing for that final weekend in April at a training facility down in Florida, including a one-week detour in Orlando, Florida for the East-West Shrine Game. Here is his account of his experience so far in his words:On how everything has been going since the last diary:
It's been going pretty good, not too bad at all. Work is kind of letting up right now towards the end but overall it's been a great experience. Times are getting faster and everything has been pretty good.
On seeing improvement in his measurements and reaching 30" in the vertical jump:
Yea I just reached 30" in the vert. I'm definitely seeing improvements in everything. To tell you the truth it all depends on what day you do [each exercise] on. At the end of the weekend, on Monday, it's a good day. At the end of the week if you can get a better time or a better vert, it's a plus because of how tired you are and you've been working hard all week. But I've definitely been seeing improvement.
On getting through the daily grind of workouts:
It's not that hard to get through it all. It sounds kind of hard, I guess, to the outside people that aren't there but when you're there you are motivated to get through it. You want to do better, you want to improve in all of the events. So really when you're in there it's not that hard at all, you know you have to get better at it so that makes you just do it. I think that's the mentality of everybody. I don't see it as something difficult or nagging. I see it as something you have to do.
On not being able to perform at the NFL Scouting Combine:
Obviously I'm a little upset about it, but whatever happens is what happens. You can't really do anything about it so you make the best of it.
On whether it puts more pressure on the Rutgers Pro Day:
I wouldn't say more pressure, now I just have to do everything at Pro Day instead of the Combine then going to Pro Day just to do drills. Either way it's all the same.
On whether any teams have contacted him:
I haven't spoken to teams since the All-Star game period. Right now, I guess, it's a period where nothing is going on.
On whether that will change after the Combine and Pro Day:
That's what you hope for, right? After showcasing yourself and playing, that's the whole purpose of it.
On whether he talks to the other Rutgers guys preparing for the Draft:
Anthony trains with me so we see each other every day and we play Madden every night. But as far as Dev and Tim, I haven't spoken to Tim. I spoke to Dev once or twice, texted him, just to ask him how it was and how he's doing. Nothing really too in-depth.
On whether it makes it easier to go through this with Anthony Davis:
It makes it more of a competitive thing. It is nice having somebody that you know closely down here with you so you can push each other. Anthony is such a great athlete so I guess it's good for both of us to be here, competing like we did during school.
On whether they've done anything other than Madden:
Madden and NBA 2K10, that's about it.
On his daily schedule:
It's wake up, run, go back to eat lunch, then lift, then rest and then Madden. That's pretty much my day.
On whether he gets cabin fever:
Not at all. I think you're so tired from lifting and running that you just want to sit down. You really don't feel like doing anything. You're down here for a reason. I'm not down here on vacation. I go to work out and then I come back to lay down and relax.
On whether he talks about how close he is to the NFL:
It's a good feeling knowing that you've been doing this for so many years and now you're actually getting to that point where it's going to pay off eventually. I was trying to think back the other day what it felt like when I first started playing football, I think it was fourth grade. Back then it was different, you never thought about the NFL, just about having fun. But the older you get, in high school and college, you realize wow I'm getting closer to another level of football. More competition and how competitive you can be, I guess that's what separates people from high school and the college level and the pros.
On when he first realized he had a chance at the NFL:
High school was all about just getting to college. You go to college, you have to go with the mentality that you can get to the next level. The time that I realized that was when I was actually doing well enough to maybe reach the next level was I guess my redshirt sophomore year or redshirt junior year. I realized I was playing at a higher level and that I might have a shot.
On when he leaves the training facility:
I leave Saturday, February 27. I go back up to Rutgers.
On what that feeling will be like:
I wouldn't see it as freeing. I'm going to be doing the same lifts that I've been doing down here. I see it as I get to see my family, my friends. It's something I've been away from for a long time.