INDIANAPOLIS — Ifeadi Odenigbo remembers
The more minute, the better.
“Dean’s that type of guy he’d say, ‘Hey, Ifeadi, man, I noticed you slept for 7½ hours. You should really try to strive for 8 ½, nine hours,’” recalled Odenigbo at the NFL Scouting Combine Saturday.
“‘Ifeadi, have you read this book? This is a really good book. You should read this, man. Did you know reading actually improves your sleeping?’ Or after a lift, ‘Hey, did you get your PR?’ No, I didn’t man. ‘You didn’t get that sleep.’”
Odenigbo and Lowry were members of the same 2012 recruiting class at Northwestern University, sharing a defensive line room for four years before the Packers drafted Lowry in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
A brotherhood was born out of friendly competition. The two linemen would rush off opposite sides in the Wildcats’ nickel package and line up next to each other in the dime.
During their time together, Lowry often imparted advice to Odenigbo on everything from his workouts to how getting the proper amount of sleep every night can benefit your overall well-being.
Odenigbo had fun with it at the time but sees the value of the suggestions. Now looking to make the same jump to the pros that Lowry made last year, Odenigbo credits his former teammate’s stick-to-itiveness for making him a better player.
“I wouldn’t be where I’m at if it wasn’t for guys like him,” said Odenigbo, who added that he may finally check out the books Lowry recommended now that he’s finishing school.
The 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive end isn’t the only prospect at this week’s combine in Indianapolis who has benefited from the tutelage of a former teammate now playing for the Packers.
UCLA defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes also shared a recruiting class with Packers defensive tackle
Vanderdoes (6-4, 305), who is down 35 pounds since the end of his senior year, played two seasons with Clark on the Bruins’ defensive line.
“Kenny Clark is a dog,” Vanderdoes said. “He loves football a lot. Him coming to work every day, that’s what made him great. He’s a very consistent football player, a technician and student of the game.”
Clark isn’t the only Packers player Vanderdoes looks up to, though. Asked which NFL players he likes to watch, he immediately answered Packers defensive tackle
“I love watching him,” Vanderdoes said. “I like his tenacity and his bull-rush, quickness off the ball and how he plays.”
Jones never played at UCLA with Clark or McKinley, but that didn’t stop the Packers defensive end/linebacker from reaching out to his fellow Bruins.
A year after Jones provided Clark with a few tips in the pre-draft process, McKinley said the fifth-year veteran was one of several UCLA alums he spoke to leading up to this week’s combine.
“I talked to Kenny Clark, Datone Jones, (Seattle linebacker) Cassius Marsh,” said McKinley, a native Californian like Jones and Clark. “Basically, they just tell me to enjoy it. Enjoy college because once it’s over, it’s over. NFL is nothing like college, at all. It’s a big-boy league. I talked to them and asked a few questions – how did they handle it? How did they handle the interviews and on little feedback (because) they’ve been through it.”
3. John Ross is fast.
Ross was asked when he met with the media on Friday whether he had a chance at breaking Chris Johnson’s 9-year-old combine record in the 40-yard dash.
“I’m going to try,” Ross said. “I’m going to give it my best.”
Well, there’s a new fastest man in town.
The Washington redshirt junior receiver beat the combine record with a 4.22-second time on Saturday afternoon, two hundredths of a second faster than Johnson’s 4.24 in 2008.
Many draft experts expected Ross to be the fastest prospect to compete in Indianapolis this week following a breakthrough junior season in which he caught 81 passes for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns.
A friend of DeSean Jackson, Ross told reporters on Friday he learned how to control his speed from the veteran receiver and came to Indianapolis to prove there’s more to his game than just what can be measured on a stopwatch.
“Just not being one-dimensional,” Ross said. “(I’m) a guy who can move around. Play different (receiver) positions. Play everything being explosive, really. I don't want to be known as just a guy who can go deep. I want to be able to do a lot of things in my game.”
There is one catch with Ross. He’ll undergo shoulder surgery March 14 following his Washington pro day. While he faces a four-to-six month recovery, Ross expects to be ready for the regular season.
Other than Johnson’s 4.24, the next fastest times ever recorded in the 40 at the combine are Dri Archer’s 4.26 in 2014, Jerome Mathis’ 4.26 in 2005, and the 4.27 Marquise Goodwin, Stanford Routt and Tyrone Calico each registered.
4. Adam Shaheen is a beast.
The Ashland redshirt junior tight end garnered a lot of attention this week at the combine due to his unique background and monstrous 6-foot-6, 278-pound frame.
Shaheen started his college career as a basketball player at Pittsburgh-Johnstown before transferring following his true freshman season to play football at Ashland, a Division II school in Ohio with an enrollment around 5,700.
After serving as the No. 3 tight end in 2014, Shaheen caught 127 passes for 1,670 yards and 26 touchdowns during his final two seasons, setting the school’s single-season records for receptions (70) and receiving touchdowns (16) along the way.
At 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, Shaheen didn’t draw much attention coming out of high school. However, he put on weight steadily once he transitioned back to football. He arrived at Ashland at 225, played at 260 his sophomore year before bumping up to 277 this past season.
How’d he do it?
“A lot of Chipotle burritos. A lot of burritos,” Shaheen said. “No, in all honesty it was a lot of burritos. But it was a ton of consistency, going in and doing one hard week of training and then lazy the next. It was a year and a half to two years of constant … ‘Sorry, guys, I can’t hang out. I gotta go eat.’”
Shaheen believes he could still comfortably add another 15 pounds without compromising his athleticism. His size and background have made him a drafknik darling.
He’s not buying into the hype, though. He’s stayed mostly off social media. His Twitter account has been used three times since November 2014 and consists of a mere 694 followers through Saturday afternoon.
“Actually, I deleted most of my social media,” Shaheen said. “I take after LeBron, the ‘blackout’ type deal. My dad has been sending me all of these articles. I am like, ‘You need to stop that right now. I am not going to read them until it’s done.’”
5. As seen on the Internet…
Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush turned to an interesting resource to increase the size of his hands between the Senior Bowl and combine.
“I looked up a YouTube video of hand stretching,” Rush said. “Just random, for people who type a lot. And did that, and it helps it feel better and it worked.”
The trick apparently worked. Rush’s hands grew from 8 3/4 inches in January to 9 1/8 when he was re-measured this week in Indianapolis.
What exactly did he do?
“Stretched them. Stretched them a lot,” said Rush, the third all-time leading passer in Central Michigan history with 9,354 yards. “A few days, and then the last few days just been really stretching them. Stretching them hard and then I don’t know, got lucky. I was happy, though.”