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NFL Combine Notebook: Day 1


A handful of players Denver might be considering selecting in the 2015 Draft

INDIANAPOLIS —** In just the first day at Lucas Oil Stadium at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine, we heard from an offensive lineman who someday hopes to be a neurosurgeon, the Missouri Valley Football Conference's best tight end in its 30-year history, and more. Between that variety of characters of amazing football talent, and the array of NFL coaches and GMs, it was quite the interesting day.

Tomlinson shifts academic focus to football

Duke offensive guard Laken Tomlinson was clear about what he wanted to prove to the NFL during this week: "One of the things I want to market to the other teams is that I'm one hell of a player."

But there's so much more to Tomlinson, who came to America from Jamaica and picked up football a year before he got to high school.

For starters, he double-majored at Duke in evolutionary psychology and pyschology. And someday he'd like to pick up his education where he left off and take it further.

"My interest right now is neurology," Tomlinson said when asked what type of doctor he would be were he to continue down his medical path. "So, maybe a neurosurgeon."

If you couldn't grasp that Tomlinson has a passion for academia just based on his background at Duke, his goals in improving upon his undergraduate learning speak even louder to that.

So after saying all that, you might ask why he's putting off a possible career in neuroscience for football. His answer: "I see football as the ultimate challenge, your physical capabilities to the core. I love the challenge and I'm just now at the opportunity to go against the best of the best in the game. [It] excites me."

Plus, he sees himself going back to school at a later point in time and picking up where he left off. As for how his devotion to academics has influenced his character in regards to football, Tomlinson sees it as giving him an edge over other players, especially because he's become an adept film dissector.

"I apply myself to academic work and to football, just my work ethic," he said. "I play with great physical fundamentals. I play with great pad leverage and I'm a hell of a nasty player."

Humphries making a bet on himself

For college players who decide to try to make the jump to the NFL before their entire eligibility is up, the Draft Advisory Board serves as a guiding hand to let them know whether to stay in school or to take a worthwhile gamble.

For Florida offensive lineman D.J. Humphries, the Draft Advisory Board served as a challenge. They told him to come back to Florida and he decided to make his own decision.

It was a "gut feeling-type thing," he said.

"I took it as a challenge, almost," Humphries continued. "They were telling me I should come back so I'm going to show them why I should come out."

Humphries, one of the most sought-after recruits out of high school, has become a big name NFL prospect after his time as a Gator and boasts a skill set that teams are very interested in. As he continues to gain weight, Humphries maintains the quickness and agility that has made him a desirable tackle prospect.

That's been the consistent part of his game, and he said it's something that he takes as a constant as his body develops further.

"It's just working at it, just thinking like I'm still light, pretty much — thinking like I can still do all the stuff that I could before I gained the weight because I really can. I can still do all the same movements, the same footwork and all that stuff, just staying consistent with my pattern I was doing before I was 300 pounds."

Missouri Valley's best ever makes history

Southern Illinois' Mycole Pruitt was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference's best tight end in its 30-year history. And he still had a couple games left in his last season.

"I was surprised. I wasn't expecting anything like that, especially because I was still playing," Pruitt said. "When they named me that, I felt really honored because there's obviously been some great tight ends coming through the Missouri Valley. I'm just thankful for all the opportunities and all the blessings."

Per the Salukis' website, he finished his collegiate career leading the conference in career receptions (211), receiving yards (2,601) and receiving touchdowns among tight ends.

But his most difficult challenge came off the football field.

Being away from family while at school can be tough, and Pruitt felt particularly separated from his mother and his siblings. As he nears his dream of making it to the NFL, being able to help provide for his family drives him even more.

"One thing that really was challenging was kind of being away at college and at home, my mom was kind of struggling through with my three siblings and I recently had a new niece," he said. "She was kind of struggling at home and it was kind of hard to watch that. So that's one of my main motivations for this weekend and moving forward in the future."

Take a trip back to NFL Combines past with photos of Broncos from their showcases in Indianapolis.

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