After serving as backup for most of his career, Matt Flynn finally got his chance to deliver as a fifth year senior for the Tigers and boy did he deliver.
The Tyler (Texas) native orchestrated one of the brightest and most successful seasons in LSU football history as the Tigers won their second BCS National Championship in five years making them the only program to win two crystal balls since the inception of the Bowl Championship Series.
The 2007 campaign was one that put Flynn to the test as he had to overcome the dreaded high ankle sprain early in the season and then a separated shoulder put him out of the SEC Championship Game.
The gritty performer returned on the grandest stage of them all and led the Tigers to a 38-24 win over Ohio State.
The casual observer would probably not have known that Flynn was not 100 percent for the game because the box score did not tell the complete story.
Sure, he completed 19-of-27 passes for 174 yards and four touchdowns in his last collegiate game with the Tigers but it wasn’t until after that clash in the Superdome that the shoulder began to feel better.
As time went on, Flynn started preparing for the next step in his career and he now feels confident in his throwing and like his old self again.
“I’ve always felt confident in my throwing but I think a couple of weeks after the game,” Flynn said, when asked when he felt really confident about the shoulder. “Just throwing a lot it progressively got better each week and I think the last three to four weeks I’ve really come on and really thrown the way to where I’ve gotten back to my old self.”
Flynn went to Indianapolis back in February and checked in at 6-2, 231 pounds. He ran a 4.79 (40) which put him in the top 25 percentile for quarterbacks at the combine so he chose not to run on Wednesday.
He did throw the ball in position workouts and he threw the ball as well as he ever has in my opinion as he put the ball on the money and had real good velocity on all of his throws.
Now, all Flynn can do is continue to workout and throw the ball like he has been doing every day and then wait and see if his name is called on draft day.
“I really don’t know what’s going to happen but I just want to get on a team and get in a situation where it’s a good system and there is someone good playing that I can learn a lot from because I feel like my best football is in front of me,” he said.
“I’ve had one good year to play and I believe every bit of experience I get is just going to help me in the future,” Flynn added. “I have the experience of sitting behind somebody and still progressing as a quarterback and I feel that is going to really do me well at the next level.”
Another player that elected to not run on Wednesday was Jacob Hester and after running a 4.62 (40) in Indianapolis he probably made the right decision.
“I felt at the combine my times were good enough and I really wanted to come out here and concentrate on the drills because at the combine the drills are kind of fast paced with 30 guys out there so you don’t really get a good look out there,” said Hester. “Out here there was only four or five of us so I felt like I really wanted to come out and concentrate on that.”
Prior to his combine showing in February, Hester flashed his skills for the scouts during a week of practices at the Senior Bowl in Mobile.
Getting ready for the NFL draft is a process that can wear on the mind as much as it wears on the body and that is something that Hester can attest to.
“It’s like nothing I’ve ever done,” he said. “Some people say it’s like recruiting but it’s really not. The senior bowl and the combine alone are the most stressful weeks but they are also the funnest. It’s something you can’t explain because you are up until one in the morning and then they have you up at five in the morning doing different things. So it’s definitely a weird process but I’m lucky enough to be able to do it.”
The biggest question on Hester seems to be which position he will play at the next level.
Will he be a tailback like he was at LSU for much of the past two seasons or will he be a fullback like he was early in his career?
Most draft experts feel that Hester is better suited for fullback but some question whether his body can handle that role.
After the past two months he feels that he has answered some of those questions.
“They knew I could run the football but they really weren’t sure about the fullback and how strong I was,” he said. “At the combine I did really good on the 225 (pound) reps (23) and really showed them in the senior bowl that I could play fullback as well as tailback so I think I helped myself a lot.”
Hester’s entire career at LSU was one where he seemed to exceed all expectations that he had and that were also placed upon him so there is no reason to think that he will not continue to do so when he embarks on this next journey.
After all, he was only a 2-star recruit when he came out of Evangel so no one, including himself, expected all of this.
“No and nor did I think I would ever be a starting running back at LSU having the season that I did or the season that this team had,” said Hester when asked if he expected to be in this spot.
“It was all a dream and I’m very thankful for the opportunities that I got,” he added. “Coming out of Shreveport and the lowest rated recruit in my class I never thought I would be out here at Pro Day with people actually caring about what I did. It’s a good feeling to have and I just feel blessed.”
Feeling blessed would also describe Early Doucet’s feelings at this time because after missing five games due to a pulled groin and then missing the senior bowl due to another minor injury he feels like the player he knows he can be.
And he should since he has had to answer plenty of questions about his injury plagued senior year.
“The main thing was me being healthy and my injury,” Doucet said referring to what the scouts and coaches have asked him about the most. “I tried to just let everybody understand that was the first time I really had an injury that caused me to miss games and that wasn’t my problem. So for me to come out here and go through a full workout with no problems, I wanted to show them that I was back healthy again.”
Doucet was measured and weighed at 6-foot, 203 pounds and he was an impressive looking 203 pounds as he was chiseled with some big guns pumped for biceps.
He ran a 4.56 (40), which was not what he had hoped for, but he feels that he has a lot more to offer that offsets his speed.
“You always want to do better than that but that doesn’t make the football player,” he said. “The 40-time is only one aspect of it because a lot of great NFL receivers didn’t run great 40-times but they understood the game of football and that’s the type of guy I am.”
Now that Pro Day is behind him and the draft is on the horizon there are three things Doucet has on his mind and he wants the NFL personnel to know what that is.
“Training,” he said. “Continuous training and eating right and living right. I want to be healthy so I can go into training camp and show the coaches that I want to be there and that I am going to do what it takes to make it.”