Ole Miss running back Brandon Bolden, who trains in Boca Raton at the TEST Academy with former Dolphins running back Keith Byars and others, gave Dolphins.com an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into his four days at the Combine from the moment he stepped off the plane. Here, in his own words, is Bolden’s personal diary:
“It was fun and it was taxing but it was very, very educational and it was worth being taxing because teams need to figure out you. They want to invest all of this money into you so that’s why they brought you to the Combine, to spend some one-on-time with you, watch how you work out on a big stage, because that’s what the NFL is, the biggest stage.
"You start out as a kid playing in the backyard but the NFL’s that big stage so everybody just wanted to kind of see where you are mentally, physically and psychologically. But like I said it was fun and I feel like I represented myself well. I answered some real tough questions and even answered a lot of football questions. I think I turned quite a few heads while I was up there.”
Day 1: Thursday, February 23rd:
“It didn’t go non-stop exactly right there from the time I got off the plane, but yeah, it hit you kind of quick, real quick at that. But it was a good experience and it was great. Who wouldn’t want to go through that experience? It was great to meet all the teams and just get some exposure. So we checked into the hotel and dropped off our bags in the room, then went to the hospital to get X-rays and more medical evaluations. That was interesting. I didn’t expect to spend that long in the hospital. That was probably the longest I’ve ever been in the hospital but it was cool.
"At orientation the meetings were very informative with a lot of stuff we needed to know. Some stuff we did know already but they filled in a lot of blanks for everybody. After that we did the train-stop interviews with the team and it was like at the (East-West Shrine Bowl) all-star game, just round-tables where everybody gets to shoot a few questions at you for 15 minutes and they blew a horn and you had to stop right away. I didn’t get any crazy questions. We talked mostly football so it was great.”
Day 2: Friday, February 24th:
“This was definitely one of the longest days as all of the team doctors got to perform their medical evaluations on us. They get to poke and pull on you to see what’s wrong and see what’s not working correctly. I mean it is what it is because they’re investing in you so they want to see if you can go that extra mile if they need it. I mean when you go to buy a car you’re going to check under the hood before you buy it.
"After the team doctors were through we went to get weighed in and measured and we weren’t even in regular shorts, we were in compression shorts. It was kind of cool but it was kind of weird because everyone was just staring, but they wanted to see how tall you were, how big your hands are, how long your arms are and all of your measurements. We even got in the Bod-Pod and that was like being in an egg and being born all over again. We were supposed to meet with the media that day also but they had me getting more MRIs and X-rays. Other than that ankle fracture I had at the beginning of the season I didn’t have anything else and even that injury checked out.”
Day 3: Saturday, February 25th:
“We met with the NFLPA and it was kind of like orientation all over again as they were telling us about the union and what they went through for the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the lockout. Everything was really informative.
"Then it was onto the psychological testing and basically they just wanted to see where your mind was and if you were ready to take on the stress and the pressure of the NFL. We did some of that the night before but it wasn’t really that big of a deal. The rest of the afternoon and evening was set aside for individual team meetings.”
Day 4: Sunday, February 25th:
“That’s what we’d been waiting for and this is what I came here for, was to show what I can do on the field. It was great, and then I got to hang out with everybody, Trent (Richardson of Alabama), LaMichael (James of Oregon), Doug (Martin of Boise State), (Louisiana Tech’s Lennon) Creer, Vick (Ballard of Nevada) and Tauren (Poole of Tennessee), the whole running back crew. And the best part of it was we all knew about each other and we’d say, ‘I’ve seen you do this and I’ve seen you do that.’ And then to see how they warmed up and see how you’ve been training to warm up and to see how that all goes together was really beneficial. We almost warmed up as one big group so it was kind of cool.
"I had no idea what my times were because as soon as we were done we had to get going. The bad part about it was everybody’s flight left at 6 p.m. and we were still in the middle of just doing the broad jump at 4:30, so it was like, we need to hurry up and get here, do this and we’ve got to leave. It was just like, wow, I didn’t get to check my times because I had to pack this bag and get on the plane. I know I ran a faster time running from the security checkpoint to the plane because she (the ticket agent) said, ‘If you don’t make this plane you’ll have to come back and we’ll find you another one.’ I snatched that boarding pass and I ran.”