March 20, 2015

Ali Marpet is one of the most unlikely prospects in this year's NFL draft

The Division III offensive lineman from Hobart College wowed scouts at the Senior Bowl against some of college football's best, then measured up to other top prospects at the combine.

Marpet, 6-foot-4, 307 pounds, is sharing his path to the April 30-May 2 draft in Chicago with The Associated Press. This week he reflects on his pro day, his talented teammates at Hobart and the need for him to show scouts that he can be versatile.

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Q: What was pro day like at Hobart?

A: ''It was me and another offensive lineman and we just did offensive line positional work. It was Hobart's first real pro day. I think it went really well. There was a decent amount of teams that turned out (about a dozen).

''The thing is we've have had players get looked at it private workouts. This is the first really set date.''

Q: Who joined you?

(Note: Marpet worked out with teammate and fellow offensive lineman DeAndre Smith).

A: ''(Teammate) DeAndre Smith. We both started sophomore, junior, senior seasons. He was an all-American at Hobart. He's been my teammate for four years. We're the only two senior offensive linemen.

''He's a good dude. He's one of the hardest workers. He came into camp (as a freshman) at 350 pounds. I came at 250 pounds. By our senior season, we were both about 300. So he had to work his tail off to lose that weight. I had to work my tail off to gain it.''

Q: Any other players at Hobart who could get an NFL look?

A: ''We actually had two other players. We were the winningest class in Hobart history, so we do have some talent.

''We actually have a defensive end who was the defensive player of the year in the conference. Tyree Coleman. Going against him in practice was awesome. He's a player who has the physical ability to keep playing. He's just been a little overlooked because of his height. He's only 5-11 1/2. He's a freak. He gets the job done. I'm telling you he was not fun to block. As far as dominating the level of competition, that's what he did.''

Q: Who else?

A: ''Our fullback Dom Ellis, who just attended a regional combine. I know he had offers from legit Division I schools. He came and started from freshman year on. If you put on our tape, he just destroys kids. Like takes them off their feet.''

Q: Who was your offensive line coach at Hobart and how important was he to your development?

A: ''Our offensive line coach was also our offensive coordinator, Kevin DeWall. He coached me all four years and without a question I would not be getting the same looks without him. He's the reason why I get most of these looks.

''I came in as a freshman with absolutely zero technique to be honest and he really coached me up. In high school, I didn't really need technique just because I was so much more physically dominant. It was similar to that in college, but I really did take my technique seriously and I really wanted to fine tune my craft. I kept working on it and I had a coach that would push me and help me to do it the right way.''

(Note: After the season, DeWall became the head coach Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts)

Q: What was your pro day goal?

A: ''I want to show teams my athleticism can translate to just playing better. I think I showed that. I snapped for the coaches. Showed them I can play center. I just wanted to be explosive in my first step after snapping the ball.

Q: Did you play center in college?

A: ''I did a little bit of center at pre-practice throughout the season. I never got any game reps at center.''

Q: Where do you see yourself playing as a professional?

A: ''Here's the reality: I want to be able to play all five positions. I want to be able to play tackle when I need to. Play guard if I need to, depending on what we need that game or that week. I want to be able to move around.''

Q: What's the most difficult part of learning to snap?

A: ''One thing that's difficult to do in the shotgun, when you're snapping it and you're pulling or running out of it, so it's an outside run. You really have to snap and make sure the snap's on target and then really sprint out of that stance and show them you're explosive.''

Q: This has been spring break for you. How have you spent your time?

A: ''I'm home. (Hastings-on-Hudson, New York). No beach time for me. I'm taking this week, I'm still working out but it's more of a recovery week for me. I have a whole bunch of individual workouts and team visits coming up. It's going to be a pretty grueling next couple of months.''

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