Originally written on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 1/19/13
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

Brady issues statement on Facebook after having suspension lifted

Don Orsillo reportedly asked to lie about being fired by NESN

Matt Cassel believes Bills will keep three quarterbacks

St. Louis police seize scalpers' World Series tickets to give to friends

Eli Manning happy Tom Brady will play NFL season opener

Phil Kessel has shed 13 pounds this summer

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Cam Newton addresses ‘gang’ photo on Instagram

Steelers defense is younger and faster but not better

Duke basketball to visit White House next Tuesday

Report: Cowboys have interest in Broncos RB Montee Ball

NFL owners to discuss changing Goodell's disciplinary role

Report: Eagles trade Matt Barkley to Arizona Cardinals

WATCH: Ben Revere gifted Matt Wieters a home run

Judge Sarah Thomas as an NFL official, not a female NFL official

Redskins skip Robert Griffin III in jersey countdown

Wisconsin vs Alabama preview

Simona Halep popular with fans who want to kiss her

Patriots planned on raising a "Brady banner on opening night

Braves and Phillies sucking at the same time is rare

Montana St. linebacker delivers bone crushing hit in opener

Despite loss, all eyes still on Jim Harbaugh, Wolverines

Kirk Cousins discusses what it’s like to be called ‘Kurt’

Playoffs or not, Bryce Harper is the NL MVP

Donald Sterling’s wife Shelly seeking alimony

Chicago Bears and Jay Cutler: A love/hate relationship

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

Wisconsin vs Alabama preview

Tom Brady issues statement on Facebook

Robert Griffin III and a dream deferred

Best, worst surprises of NFL preseason

The Gospel Of Harbaugh prepares for its ultimate test of faith

Meet the Utah Utes, the pluckiest program in college football

Iman Shumpert will name daughter Iman Shumpert Jr.

Dallas company celebrates Romo with DirecTV 'crownies'

Top 10 storylines for Week 4 of the NFL preseason

Matt Williams is still hopelessly married to the idea of the closer’s role

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker