Three Buffs On Their Way to Indy

Mason Crosby, Mark Fenton and Abraham Wright will be in Indianapolis this week to take part in the annual NFL Combine.

The NFL Combine takes place in Indianapolis Wednesday through Feb. 27. The Combine is by invite only, and roughly 335 NFL hopefuls are invited each year.

Players are grouped by position and run through a variety of medical exams, physical tests, given the Wonderlic intelligence test, and have interviews with NFL coaches and general managers over a four-day period.

Center Mark Fenton and kicker Mason Crosby are scheduled for their workouts and interviews beginning Wednesday. Abraham Wright is among the group of players who begin Friday.

Fenton and Wright both graduated from Colorado in December and both have been working out at Velocity Sports Performance in Centennial since early December. Among its other training services, VSP conducts a workout program specifically for players headed to the NFL combine. Along with running at 10 a.m. and lifting at 2 p.m., Fenton and Wright have received mental coaching and tips on dealing with the media.

Both players have sought advice from current and former NFL players they know, as well.

"Everybody's telling me how things are going to go," Fenton said. "How it's going to be the trainers, the coaches, the GMs, the press. How you have to do all the right things."

The Combine is referred to by some as a meat market, where trainers, scouts and coaches poke and prod the athletes. But with the monetary investment teams make in players these days, the detailed scrutiny is inevitable.

"It's hitting me big-time," Wright said of the business side of sports. "It's not like college. If you're having a bad week of practice they can cut you mid-week. You're only a week-to-week employee.

"But it's fun. If you work hard, it'll pay off."

Wright said his physical workouts have focused on shaving seconds off his 10-, 20- and 40-yard dash times. (Players run a 40 at the combine, but their times when they pass the 10- and 20-yard marks are also recorded ad evaluated).

"It's gotten to the point at the Combine now where you are almost turned into a track guy," Wright said.

He said some of the instruction he received from former CU strength, speed and conditioning coach Greg Finnegan — who was an NFL strength coach before working under Gary Barnett at CU — has paid off.

"Coach Finnegan, I owe him a lot. He taught us a lot of this stuff," Wright said. "We're basically working on fast-twitch muscles and working on explosion lifts."

Heading into the week of activities, Crosby is the highest ranked of the three Buffaloes. The top-rated kicker in the draft is projected to go in the third or fourth round by Scout.com.

Fenton is ranked the No. 5 center prospect in the draft, and probably a mid-round (4-5) draft choice. Fenton thinks he proved something by coming back from a foot injury this past season and playing well in his final two games against Iowa State and Nebraska.

He said he's heard from his agent that some teams like his quickness and hands, but that he needs to prove he can be a dominant blocker.

"I only need one team to feel like I fit their scheme, one team to really like me," he said.

Wright, on the other hand, is a tweener. He played mostly defensive end at Colorado, but may be asked to try linebacker if he's to get a job playing at the next level. Wright played linebackers in two games his junior season (he was a quarterback spy vs. Missouri and Texas A&M that year), and was a linebacker for two years in high school and his freshman year at NEO A&M.

All three players will also take the Wonderlic. The test includes 50 questions, and players are given 12 minutes to complete them. All have been practicing with various sample tests. But Wright said that's not a big concern for him, especially after Vince Young scored poorly on the Wonderlic last spring, then had a terrific rookie season as a quarterback.

"I need to do good on my dashes, on my position drills, so they can see how my feet move — do I look smooth, can I break on a ball?" said Wright, downplaying the Wonderlic. "And then the in the one-on-one meetings with the coaches, they want to see what kind of person I am, and if I know defenses."


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