As offensive lineman Antonio Mafi transitions from University of California at Los Angeles to the NFL, shares his journey with Times staff writer ben bolsch through a weekly newspaper that leads to the April 27 draft. This week, Mafi talks about the importance of a good performance in the bruins‘professional day.
It was a bummer not being invited to the NFL combine, but that’s okay.
I’m going to make UCLA pro day on Wednesday my own combine. I feel like I’m ready to show the scouts what I can do.
Since the season ended at the end of December, I’ve been training for this moment. I spent a few months in Florida before recently returning to Westwood to prepare to show all the ways I’ve improved.
I’ve received good feedback along the way, earning praise from the coaches at the East-West Shrine Bowl and from my mentor in Florida, former Cincinnati Bengals left tackle Willie Anderson. He told me that he would double my confidence, be a run blocker; everyone will expect that of me, so I have to make sure that I continue to demonstrate that. We also work a lot on my passing sets and I just have to be able to show that on pro day, show that I’ve gotten better with pass blocking and using my hands.
Atonio Mafi’s NFL Draft Diary
Chip Kelly has also given me a huge confidence boost. He told me not to worry about being passed over to the Combine and that he was still going to be drafted. The coach has a lot of experience drafting players, so I’m sure he knows what he’s talking about.
I saw a draft projection that got me all the way to the third round. It would be awesome, but I know it’s just someone’s guess and I need to prove that I’m worth being voted so high. I just have to make sure I stay humble and focused on the work that needs to be done.
I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone playing at Spaulding Field on pro day. It will feel like a reunion with so many of us Bruins together. The other guys that come are Kazmeir Allen., stephan blaylock, jake bobo, BoCalvert, Zach Charbonnet, michael ezeike, Jon Gaines II, Azizi Hearn, Jack Landherr IV, raiqwon o’neal, Mo Osling III, shea pits, Jacob Sykes and Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
It was great to see Dorian, Jon, Jake and Zach succeed at the combine and now we will all do our best to impress alongside them. I’m going to do the position drills and the lift and maybe even run the 40-yard dash; My agent and I are still talking about whether it’s a good idea, so it will be a game time decision.
I would feel confident executing it because I am in the best shape of my football career, down to 333 pounds. My goal in lifting is to bench press 225 pounds 25 times, which would be a solid number. In position drills, I want to show off my athleticism and lateral quickness as well as the power I’m known for.
I will not lack motivation. I should have been able to show the scouts all these same things at the Combine.