On Feb. 2, Kendall Gaskins participated in the Texas vs. The Nation Bowl in Allen, Texas, in preparation for the 2013 NFL Draft.
Gaskins spent the week leading up to the game partaking in drills, interviewing with scouts of professional teams, signing autographs and practicing with some of the best college seniors in the NCAA. He was one of 13 players from the FCS, or Division 1AA, to play in the game, including four players from the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).
Players in the game came from all over the country, including prestigious football programs, such as Texas, the University of Southern California, Louisiana State University, Penn State and the University of Miami.
It was suprising to see how many people knew who he was, Gaskins said. Coming from a small school such as Richmond, he was not expecting players from other schools to recognize his name, he said.
For the players, the week entailed more than just drills and practices. It focused on preparing players for life after college: the life of a professional football player. The first couple of days, the players filled out paperwork and interviewed with more than 100 NFL scouts, he said.
A typical day for the players began with a 7:15 a.m. wake-up, followed by morning practice, afternoon meetings and interviews and meetings at night, with meals scattered in between.
The practices were more important than the actual game, Gaskins said, because scouts attended every practice and were able to watch each player. The game was mostly for the fans and family members to come out and watch, he said.
During pre-game stretches on Saturday, Gaskins received a tap on the shoulder from one of the coaches, who told him that he had been named a captain for his team. Gaskins said it had been a huge honor that he had been chosen to be a captain at an all-star game of talented football players.
As captain, Gaskins caught a pass for 20 yards and made a couple tackles on special teams that led Team Nation to a 24-13 victory over Team Texas. This past season, as captain of the Richmond Spiders football team, Gaskins led the team to a CAA championship.
“I think that [Gaskins’] selection as captain for this game is a real reflection of his character,” said Ben Edwards, wide receiver for the Spiders. “It shows the type of dedication that he has brought to every single day of his four years here at Richmond.”
Gaskins said that his week in Texas had given him a glimpse of what the other seniors at Richmond were going through as they prepared for graduation and jobs after college.
“This week was basically a job interview for me,” Gaskins said. “It shows that I’m just like any other senior.”
Gaskins finished his decorated Spider football career with 452 carries for 1,749 yards and 34 touchdowns. He also caught 46 passes for 393 yards and four touchdowns.
Gaskins will continue training to prepare for his Pro Day on March 19 and hopes to receive an invitation to the NFL Combine later this month.
Contact reporter JR Riddick at email@example.com