For Chattanoogans B.J. Coleman and Tim Benford, today marks the start of perhaps the biggest weekend of their lives. They are in Indianapolis for the NFL combine, which includes 327 invitees and scouts, coaches and higher-ups from all 32 teams.
It's the ultimate job interview, complete with physical and psychological exams, conversations with prospective bosses and numerous chances to show what you know and what you can do.
Coleman, the former McCallie and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga quarterback, and Benford, the former Red Bank High School and Tennessee Tech wide receiver, will be in the same group. They will do three days of off-the-field activities, starting today, and perform on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday.
"I'm not nervous; I'm excited," said Benford, the 2011 Ohio Valley Conference offensive player of the year. "It's a huge opportunity, and to be honest I still can't really believe I'm going to be out there with those guys."
Those guys include the likes of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III and Oklahoma State wideout Justin Blackmon. It's the best of college football's best, and Coleman is hoping to make a name for himself the way former UTC cornerback Buster Skrine did last year when he was among the fastest in all of the running events.
"I know Buster got to go through it last year," Coleman said, "and to be with the top players in the country and be a part of that, it is pretty special."
Benford showed at Tennessee Tech and the East-West Shrine Game that he has good hands and can run good routes. The combine is a chance for him to show his athleticism and speed.
Asked what number he thought he could post in the 40-yard dash, Benford wouldn't say.
"It's a secret," he said, playfully. "Everybody's going to have to wait and see."
ESPN analyst Todd McShay said Coleman "looks the part" of an NFL quarterback with his 6-foot-3, 234-pound frame and big arm.
"He's a hard worker, and he's the type of guy that put in the right situation can develop," McShay said in a conference call with reporters last week. "If his mechanics improve and his accuracy will improve, at 6-3 and change and 234 pounds, he has what you look for in [a quarterback]."