Jake Curhan and Camryn Bynum will arrive in Mobile, Alabama, sometime late today for the start of one of the biggest weeks of their football lives.
The two former Cal standouts will participate next Saturday in the Reese’s Senior Bowl all-star game at Hancock Whitney Stadium on the campus of South Alabama.
The game is a big deal, televised by the NFL Network.
Everything between now and then is a bigger deal for young men hoping to impress pro scouts, coaches and personnel executives. Especially given that the NFL has canceled its scouting combine event this year due to the pandemic, this week is significant.
“I’d say the week of practice, the way you prepare, the way you show your ability to get coached and the way you kind of attack the playbook. The one-on-ones are important too,” said Curhan, a 6-foot-6, 330-pound offensive tackle. “All that stuff is going to speak more volumes than the game itself.
“The game’s kind of the payoff.”
Curhan will arrive in Mobile from southern California, where he has been working out, while Bynum will make the shorter jaunt from Texas, his training headquarters for the past few weeks.
In the interview above, recorded earlier this week, Curhan said all players will check in Saturday evening and go through health and safety protocols, including COVID-19 testing before spending the night in temporary housing. Assuming they are cleared, they will move to the main team hotel on Sunday and begin the process of introducing themselves to the NFL.
Players are divided into National and American rosters, with both Curhan and Bynum set to play for the National squad that will be led by the Miami Dolphins coaching staff. That should be a particular treat for Bynum, the Bears’ All-Pac-12 cornerback, because he will be reunited for a week with Gerald Alexander, his former defensive backs coach at Cal through the 2019 season.
Their teammates on the National roster will include Heisman Trophy winning wide receiver DeVonta Smith and his fellow Alabama star, running back Najee Harris, who played high school football in the East Bay native.
The specific focus of the week for Curhan will be learning new positions on the O-line. He played every game of his Cal career at right tackle — 40 starts in four seasons — but NFL scouts also want to see what he can do at right and left guard.
“The big thing for me is going to be position versatility,” he said. “I know they’re not expecting me to be the best guard in the world because I haven’t played as much of it as I have tackle. The ability to get better every single day at that position and show it’s something I can do at the next level, as well as I can play right tackle, is going to be important for me.”
Showing he has the potential to handle more than one position on the line will improve Curhan’s chances of finding a spot on a 53-man NFL roster next fall.
“You’ve got to be able to do it all in order to maximize your value.”
The week will include lots of meetings, interviews with NFL teams, drills, and two padded practices, according to Curhan.
“I’m just excited to get there and get going,” Curhan said.
After four years as a college student and player, Curhan is acutely aware he’s stepping into a new chapter in his life.
“It’s really exciting and really refreshing. And it’s all happening very fast,” he said. “But when I look at every transition, whether it was into high school or into college, all that stuff happened very fast also and I had to learn really quickly.
“I think out of any of those transitions, this is the most confident mindset I’ve had going into something. It’s exciting and I’m ready to attack it.”
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo