Senior Bowl Q&A: Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor
Brian Schwenke was one of two Cal representatives at the Senior Bowl. Stanford and San Jose State also has two participants. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
MOBILE, Ala. -- The goal, of course, is to stand out. To get noticed, make a name for yourself and create a certain positive buzz in the early stages of the NFL draft process.
"To show that your weaknesses aren't your weaknesses anymore," said Stanford linebacker Chase Thomas.
"A blessing," added Cal cornerback Marc Anthony.
"A humble feeling," surmised UNR safety Duke Williams.
"It's a big thing," summed up San Jose State offensive tackle David Quessenberry. "I don't think we get enough respect in the Western Athletic Conference and in San Jose in general. And to come out here and show people what we've got is what it's all about."
Welcome to the players' perspective of the Senior Bowl. And yet, it's about more than showing out on the field. That's actually the easy part.
The unique portion of Senior Bowl Week is the pseudo-speed dating that takes place between the players and most, if not all, of the 32 NFL teams, with so much picking and probing and, well, interesting questions.
"Oh yeah, they've dropped a 'Glee' reference," laughed Tennessee tight end Mychal Rivera, whose sister Naya plays Santana on the Fox television series.
"As soon as they ask my sister's occupation, the whole conversation turns there; they all want to know how I got ugly and she got pretty."
But that was probably not the, ahem, ugliest question being tossed around Ladd-Peebles Stadium or the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel this week.
"It's just very mentally draining," Anthony said.
And the strangest question asked?
"I have heard some guys asked if they wore pink panties before," Anthony said, so there's that.
Beyond the players' choice of undergarments, each one to a man has specific personal goals they want to accomplish by the time the final whistle blows on the game itself on Saturday.
Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor's mission statement?
"I'm a well-rounded back that's tough and has vision and is going to go out there and play with his heart," Taylor said.
"That I'm a complete safety," Williams said. "That I can play man-to-man coverage as well as come down and hit and play deep third and matchup on receivers."
Added Cal center Brian Schwenke, who was not a center before this season: "I want to show that I'm the No. 1 center off the board. That's what I'm trying to do and that's why I'm here, so that's my plan."
Thomas, meanwhile, had never played in a 4-3 defensive scheme before getting reacquainted with Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver this week.
"A lot of people questioned me being able to make plays in open space," Thomas said. "So to come out here and be able to show these teams that you can do that, you can move around, I can play multiple positions (and it) really answers a lot of questions."
Anthony had a similar chip on his shoulder, saying he wanted to address "some of the criticism" about him.
"And hopefully skyrocket within the ranks and the rounds and get drafted high," he said.
Quessenberry, one of three Spartans in Mobile, had shown good footwork early in the week.
"I want to prove that I'm a guy that's one of the top offensive linemen coming out," he said, "that I can play fast, I'm smart and I can just be depended on."
Perhaps the best off-the-field personal revelation?
"You get a lot of the same questions but you get used to answering them," Schwenke said. "You kind of learn a little bit about yourself, too, at the same time."
While Williams was going through the paces at the Senior Bowl, a former UNR teammate was gearing up for the Super Bowl in 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
"He's been able to transfer his game, his college game, into the NFL and he didn't miss a beat," Williams said. "He's doing the same thing he did in college and I like to see him out there doing the exact same things.
"Coming from a small school, you're able to come out there and compete against the best and do well against the best also. I knew it was going to happen, he just needed the opportunity and I'm proud of him."