BATON ROUGE, La. — Over the course of his four years at LSU, Ethan Pocic established that he knows how to play football. One doesn’t make first team All-SEC and second team All-American without doing so.
But as he is learning throughout the pre-NFL draft process, it takes a lot more than that to become a professional. At times it can be frustrating, but in the end he knows it will be worthwhile.
“The bad part is I want to play ball,” Pocic said. “I don’t have a team right now. That’s the worst part of it.”
Like all prospective draftees, Pocic is now in a world where anything could happen. From peewee to high school to college, players know where they will be playing and whom they will be playing with. And most importantly, they have a say in where they’re going to play college ball.
The script is flipped once college is over. Now the players are the ones who have to convince a team they are worthy of being taken rather than the team recruiting the player. And a lot of that convincing takes place at events like the NFL combine or LSU’s pro day.
As Pocic learned while training for both, there is plenty of science in the process.
“There’s so many details with running and sprinting and each drill,” he said. “You change one little thing up and you can take a tenth (of a second) off your time. It’s crazy. These running things, it’s a lot technique. You’d be surprised. I mean, if you’re a freak athlete you’re a freak athlete. But if you do it with technique, you’re even better.”
Pocic trained for the combine at EXOS gym in San Diego, then returned to Baton Rouge to get ready for pro day.
“When I was combine training we’d do two workouts a day at EXOS. That’s all timing,” he said. “Now it’s all football training. I’ve been working on my core, squats, bench. Normal football lifts.”
Other than that, there’s not much else for him to do. No spring practice to attend, though he still comes out to watch how LSU is progressing. No classes to go to. No playbook to study.
It’s just a whole lot of working out and waiting. Of course, one of the best ways to fill up free time is by eating — although for Pocic, that means meeting a very specific calorie intake.
“Some teams want me at 310, 315 pounds. Some want me at 305,” Pocic said. “The good thing is I can gain and lose weight pretty easily with all this free time. I don’t have class or anything, so I can eat right.”
Pocic has pre-draft visits scheduled with four teams, but will not disclose who they are. After that, he’ll head to his parents’ house in suburban Chicago to be with his family for the draft. Once the wait is finally over — likely sometime on Day 2 — he’ll just be happy to have a team again. Pocic doesn’t care where he goes.
“Whoever wants to take me, I’d be more than happy,” he said. “It doesn’t matter when and where. As long as I get an opportunity, I’ll be happy… Rain, shine, sleet or snow, I don’t care.”