Originally written on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/17/14
84
CARSON, CALIF.,-- When history looks back on Saturday’s NFLPA Bowl, few will remember many of the particulars surrounding the National team’s 34-0 victory over the American squad. Most will likely forget that Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist was the game’s MVP or that the Dick Vermeil-coached National team capitalized on five opponent’s turnovers to cruise to a lopsided victory that was over shortly before halftime. Still, for the 104 players who recently left college football and used the last week as an opportunity to showcase themselves to the NFL front office personnel and scouts both on and off the field, it will be a memory they take with them for a long time. “The biggest thing in a game like this is to show you can compete,” said Crist, who finished the afternoon with 61 yards with both a passing and rushing touchdown. “The NFLPA put on an incredible event all week long.” Every player had a different reason for coming to this game. Some were here to get exposure after playing at a small school. Others played at the FBS level, but on teams that missed the playoffs. They used the week at the Home Depot Center to simply get back on the NFL’s radar. Then there were some like Crist, who simply had a disappointing college career that didn’t go anything like it was projected to. The former five-star high school All-American was recruited to Notre Dame by Charlie Weis, before playing parts of four seasons for both Weis and Brian Kelly. When Crist lost favor- and his starting job- with Kelly last year, he transferred to Kansas to finish out his career with Weis in the relative obscurity of the Big XII basement.   It’s safe to say that Crist’s career didn’t go quite as planned. Still he tried to use this week to prove that the past wouldn’t necessarily determine his future.  “The adversity I faced throughout my college career gives me a pretty unique perspective,” Crist said. There’s nothing I can’t handle.” Beyond just personal adversity, there is of course adversity that is outside a player’s control as well. That was certainly the case for Ohio State cornerback Orhian Johnson, who played for a team that went undefeated...but was also banned from this year’s postseason. Although it was through no fault of Johnson’s, like Crist, his college career didn’t end as planned either.   “It was different for us,” Johnson said of his team missing out on the postseason this year. “It definitely hurt at the beginning.” Still, Johnson took full advantage of the stage provided to him Saturday in the NFLPA Bowl. The imposing 6’3 Johnson made his presence felt with several big hits. It was an important step for a player who hadn’t seen game action since the Buckeyes’ season-finale against Michigan back on November 24. “I just hope I impressed these guys and showed them that I could play ball,” Johnson said. For many others, the game was simply a way to get onto the NFL’s radar, after playing at either FCS schools or small Division I schools. Rice tight end Luke Wilson fits into that category, although given the way he played on Saturday, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine playing at a much larger school. Wilson finished the game with three catches and a touchdown, and in the process may have helped get both himself and the Rice football program some exposure. “Rice being a smaller Division I school, we don’t get a lot of notoriety,” Wilson said. However, despite it, it was easy to see that Wilson stepped up his game with the increased talent on the field. “I felt like I got better from Day 1 to Day 2 to Day 3,” Wilson added. And even for some guys who had plenty of notoriety in college, they still arrived this week with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove. That was certainly the case for Orwin Smith, who had been pigeonholed as an option back, after spending his college career running, well, the triple option at Georgia Tech. He spent the week soaking up the knowledge from running backs coach Priest Holmes- a former three-time Pro Bowler- and took it to the field with him, where he rushed for 42 yards on the game. In the process, he proved to people all across the NFL that he was worthy of being in this event. “I was just blessed to be invited to any All-Star game,” Smith said. “Coming from a triple-option offense, scouts were skeptical that I could play in the NFL.” And finally there were the coaches, who simply put, may have enjoyed the experience of game week more than the players themselves. Herm Edwards and Dick Vermeil have both coached at the highest level, and Vermeil himself has accomplished the greatest feat there is in the sport, winning a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams. Still, despite reaching those high highs, there is little doubt that Vermeil still got a rush when he stepped onto the sideline on Saturday. If you don’t believe him, just ask his wife. “Last night my wife says to me, ‘Dick, you’re nervous.’”  Vermeil said following the game. “I have to stop and say, ‘What’s wrong with me?’” He then added that being back in coaching, “Just fills up my tank up.” Regardless, it’s pretty obvious that whatever was the reason that these 104 players and coaches came to Carson, it’s an experience they’ll cherish for years to come. For all his insight, analysis and opinion on college football, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.  
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Kentucky remains unbeaten after thrilling win over ND

Alabama DT arrested on domestic violence charges again

John Calipari blasted for postgame interview

WATCH: MJ, Tom Brady play pickup game in Bahamas

WATCH: Wrong national anthem played for El Salvador

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

WATCH: Russell Wilson smashes HR in Rangers BP

John Fox: Jay Cutler will have to earn starting QB job

Report: Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall candidates for Texas

Kurt Warner is helping to turn around Colin Kaepernick

Bizarre call allows Duke to cover spread against Utah

Saints love TE Josh Hill following Jimmy Graham trade

Sam Dekker's hot shooting sends Wisconsin to Final Four

Jim McElwain complains about Florida roster

Mark Few: I put Coach K up there with John Wooden

WATCH: Enes Kanter embraces boos in return to Utah

Mariners prospect dies from boat accident injuries

T.J. Ford sends heartfelt tweet about Rick Barnes

Bruins coach suits up as backup goalie

Tennessee fans show love for Bruce Pearl on campus rock

Louisville guard turned off phone after clutch NC State win

Steve Spurrier hung out with Kenny Chesney before concert

Winnipeg Jets prospect had a rough night on the ice

Did Dean Smith’s gifts to former players violate NCAA rules?

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

John Fox: Cutler will have to earn job

Texas eyeing Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall?

WATCH: Brady jumps off cliff in Costa Rica

WATCH: 2 Chainz beats Nique in HORSE

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Notre Dame vs. Kentucky

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Arizona vs. Wisconsin

NFL owners chose cost over game integrity

Be careful how loudly you cheer on Mo'ne Davis' olive branch

James Harden and the collective consciousness

Hottest coaching seats in NBA

Under-the-radar NL MVP candidates

Notre Dame’s coach makes first Elite Eight

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.