Today, we catch up with wide receiver O.J. McDuffie, selected in the first round (25th overall) of the 1993 NFL Draft out of Penn State and safety Bobby Harden, selected in the 12th round (315th overall) of the 1990 draft out of the University of Miami.
What stands out to you the most from your Draft Day experience?
O.J. McDuffie: “Boy I’ll tell you what, the number one memory probably is the fact that I spent the night before, Saturday night, at Penn State because we had the Blue and White game. Then we drove to Cleveland the morning after. I was so tired that I fell asleep at the beginning of the draft. I knew I wasn’t going anywhere in the first few hours anyway so I fell asleep and woke up around the 18th or 19th pick. I only got one phone call. That’s the thing that stands out more than anything is I got one phone call and it was from the Dolphins and it was Don Shula and it was probably the best phone call I ever had in my life.”
Bobby Harden: “My first day was pretty uneventful being a 12th round pick. It was fun watching guys like Bernard Clark and a couple of other guys go in the early rounds and I was happy for them. The second day I think I went and worked out, I came back to the house and about 4:30 or 5 I got a call from the Dolphins saying, “Oh, we see you’re still on the board. We think you’re a good player. The injury’s kind of why you’re falling to where you fell to,’ but I said, ‘All I want is an opportunity.’ They said, ‘Okay, well we drafted you. Report to camp at this time.’ And the rest is history.”
What did you personally do in preparation for the draft to help your draft position as far as special workouts, etc.?
McDuffie: “It’s a lot different now. I just pretty much worked out with the Penn State team. They had spring ball and a lot of guys that were being drafted were on that workout program. I was at Penn State the whole time just doing what we would have done if we were playing with the team still. I didn’t do anything special. I didn’t go to these little centers that they have now. I didn’t have an agent yet so I just handled getting ready.”
Harden: “It was just the same as we had always done, just working out at UM and just guys getting together running and getting in shape. My only thing was I wasn’t able to bench when I went to the Combine. I wish I was able to but having the shoulder injury was kind of one of the things that really hurt me, not knowing whether the nerve was going to regenerate and whether there was going to be any strength in the shoulder or not. So I accepted it as what it was and just showed my abilities once I got on the field.”
Was there something about your interviews with prospective coaches before the draft that stood out?
McDuffie: “It was crazy man. It was just grueling and the best thing about me was there weren’t very many question marks about character and things like that. I wasn’t worried about that. But doing the Wonderlic tests and things like that, I must have interviewed with about 15 teams at the Combine and it was just a long, grueling process but it was good that they got to know me as a person and not just as a player. I didn’t even talk to the Dolphins at the Combine. I thought I was going to San Diego, actually. That’s what everybody told me. From what I understand after the Dolphins took me 25th the Bills were talking about taking me with the next pick. I’m so lucky that I didn’t end up in Buffalo.”
Harden: “I think there might have been 40 doctors in the room when I went through that cattle call where you just come in and all these guys are sitting in chairs and they mark you off and poke and prod you. They all just looked at that shoulder and they said, ‘Wow, that thing has really atrophied.’ And they asked, ‘What happened? Is it the nerve?’ and I said, ‘Well that’s what they told me,’ and they said, ‘Well, it’ll come back.’ I wasn’t able to bench at the Combine but later on they came down for the Pro Day and I think I did 225 maybe six times, which was a big improvement from not even being able to it a month before. But it was what it was. I knew there was nothing wrong with my playing ability or my legs and my ability to play the game. I knew it was just the shoulder.”
What advice would you give to this year’s class of draft choices?
McDuffie: “Enjoy it man. Enjoy it. You work so hard to get to that day so enjoy that day for a week and then get ready to go to work. That’s the bottom line because you start working immediately and get ready to treat it like a business because it’s no longer just a game anymore. Get ready for the business part.”
Harden: “Enjoy the moment and be happy wherever you get drafted because not a lot of guys that opportunity. And if you’re not drafted and it’s your goal and your dream to play in the NFL just don’t lose that. Don’t lose sight of that. Got for it, do what you need to do and take care of yourself to get to where you want to get.”