Earlier this week, I caught up with linebacker Ryan Kerrigan in-between classes, and he shared a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on off the field at the Senior Bowl.
After a superb senior campaign at Purdue, Ryan Kerrigan punched his ticket to the first postseason action he’d had in years.
“I just remember that it was kind of an eye-opener because you saw all of how the NFL Draft process works,” he recalled. “You’ll be walking through the hotel lobby and coaches will just grab you at any time and ask you questions for a little while, and try to get to know you.
After his Boilermakers failed to finish with a winning season in each of his final three years, Kerrigan was a bit of an unknown to the national audience. He had put up big numbers in college, but had rarely played on a big stage, which left coaching staffs curious.
“You really saw how every team is really just digging for information and really trying to find things out about you, and they’ll go to any lengths to find it. It’s really just interesting from that regard, but it really gives you some perspective.”
This game and week of practice was a big stage for a player like Kerrigan, who had risen near the top of many draft boards. Playing against elite peer competition, Kerriganse seized his opportunity with a strong performance throughout the week.
In addition to meeting with Redskins coaching staff while he was down there, Kerrigan also developed a bond with the Cincinnati Bengals’ coaching staff, which guided his North Team.
“You forge relationships, and you find out a lot about them throughout the week,” he explained. “You spend a lot of time with them from a football standpoint, as well as from a personal off-the-field standpoint. It’s kind of cool to get to know the different coaching staffs in that way.”
For anyone wondering if the Redskins will find a quarterback at the Senior Bowl, consider this: the starting quarterback for the North Team last year was TCU’s Andy Dalton. Drafted by the Bengals early in the second round, he led his team to the playoffs and will make his Pro Bowl debut on Sunday.
Something tells me that Redskins fans would be satisfied with a similar result in 2012.
The vast knowledge that Kerrigan gleaned from the draft process hasn’t gone to waste, as he spends time with former Purdue teammates back on campus. The player that he aided the most in recent weeks is the lone Purdue Senior Bowl representative, kicker/punter Carson Wiggs.
“I’ve shared some general insight into what the Senior Bowl experience is like,” Kerrigan said. “I told him just to be ready to be interviewed, always be on your game in practice and always be on your guard. Every time you think someone isn’t watching, someone always is, and it’s your job to make yourself look good and present yourself well.”
Obviously Kerrigan made a solid impression during his time on and off the field, but that’s not to say he didn’t have fun. When I asked him about his favorite experience off the field that week, he mentioned a team dinner in a very special location.
“I rememeber we went to the [U.S.S. Alabama] while we were down there,” he said. “We had one of our events on it, and we had dinner provided on the ship. That was very cool to see that.”
Things worked out perfectly for the Redskins and Ryan, and best of luck to his kicking friend and whomever the Redskins have their eyes on this year.