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, has shared his path to this week's draft in Chicago with The Associated Press. It's been a busy few weeks for Marpet, packed with individual workouts for NFL teams and trips to team facilities. That's all done. Now he's back home in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, catching up with family and friends and waiting to find out where he will be working.
He is projected to be a second-day selection, maybe as high as a second-rounder.
Q: How busy have you been during the last few weeks?
A: ''Since my pro day (March 13) I think I've had only one or two days where I didn't have a workout or a visit.''
Q: Has it been stressful?
A: ''Well, sitting in the airport's not so fun. When you're actually interviewing with coaches and stuff like that, I'd say the first couple was a little bit stressful, but once you get used to it, then you feel pretty composed going in.''
Q: Any bizarre interview questions?
A: ''Believe it or not, no. I think people were just wanting to know my story. Wanted to know how I ended up at Hobart. There was nothing strange or anything like that to see how I reacted to the question.''
Q: What's the plan over the next couple of days?
A: ''Spend some time with my friends and my family. Get a good lift in. Besides that, I have to catch up on a whole bunch of (school) work. I've got a 25-page paper. I've got an exam Tuesday after the draft. Those are my biggest assignments. And there's a couple of smaller papers I have to hand in.''
(Note: Marpet is on target to graduate this spring with a degree in economics.)
Q: Will you be having a draft party at your parents' house?
A: ''I think we'll have a bunch of food. We'll keep it low-key, just a bunch of friends and family will be there. I think it'll be around 20-25 people. We'll just relax and enjoy the time.''
Q: Do you try to avoid draft coverage and all those mock drafts?
A: ''As much as I can. I understand the appeal of them, but for a player ... each team has its own individual grade. Each team has its own specific needs.''
Q: Have you had a conversation with your agent about where you might be selected and what teams are most interested in picking you?
A: ''I remove myself from that conversation. I attacked each workout and each interview like that was my only option. That's the only way to do it. I will have that conversation with my agent maybe 24 hours before the draft, but up until now, no. I'm just going out and focusing on each workout.''
Q: Does this still feel a bit strange to you considering you didn't go to college with NFL aspirations?
A: ''There's still that sort of surreal feeling that comes with it. I'm driving home right now to be with my friends and family for the NFL draft. Just saying that is a little bit weird.'' (He laughs).
''I'm extremely excited. It really is hard to describe my feelings right now, but it's exciting.''
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL