Small-school guys get their shot at NFL Scouting Combine
INDIANAPOLIS — Armonty Bryant gets those awkward looks every time he tells someone he attends college at ECU.
Naturally, the first inclination is to ask about East Carolina. When he explains the school name is actually East Central, the next question, naturally, is East Central what?
No, Bryant isn't the most prominent defensive lineman at this year's NFL Scouting Combine, and he doesn't come from a school most football fans have even heard of.
Yet he impressed enough of the right people to earn one of 333 invites to the combine so he can compete against all those big-name guys he's been watching on TV the last few years.
“I hear it all the time. They think it's supposed to be East Central Michigan or something,” he said. “East Central is in Ada, Okla. I like to say it's in the middle of nowhere.”
Here, all 29 players form the non-FBS schools have a story.
Some, such as Tennessee Tech receiver Da'Rick Rogers, are actually FBS transplants. Rogers landed with Tech, Jim Youngblood's alma mater, last August after getting booted off Tennessee's team for failing a drug test.
Others, such as Bryant and Azusa Pacific offensive lineman Luke Marquardt, outgrew their small-school monikers long ago but never got a chance to face the bigger-name players until now. Bryant was listed at 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds last season. Scouts believe he can play either defensive end or outside linebacker.
Marquardt came to Indianapolis at 6-81⁄2 and 315 pounds and did 31 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press Friday.
The only real difference between them and their higher-profile colleagues? Probably visibility.
Bryant had only two scholarship offers in high school — Abilene Christian and East Central.
Marquardt gave up football in high school, choosing instead to focus on basketball. When Azusa Pacific offered him scholarship money for football, he gave it a whirl. In two and a half years, he made the transition from walk-on basketball player to prized pupil of NFL Hall of Famer Jackie Slater, Azusa Pacific's offensive line coach.
“Just by chance, we were walking by the head coach's football locker, and I decided to go meet him,” Marquardt said. “He was like, ‘You have great size, great athleticism and we'd love to have you come out for tight end.' So I went out on the field, did a couple routes, threw with the quarterbacks ,and they offered me a little bit of money, and then, I eventually got a full-ride scholarship.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NFL notebook: Goodell must testify at Rice appeal
- NFL notebook: Report: Wide receiver Harvin a ‘time bomb’
- NFL notebook: Source says Rice’s appeal hearing set for Nov. 5-6
- NFL notebook: Harvin ‘happy’ to be with Jets