Few people in the world ever get to experience the thrill of being a top NFL draft choice. Last night, EA Sports brought together a dozen soon-to-be NFL superstars at an event to celebrate the forthcoming release of NCAA Football 13, and we got a chance to ask them – 2 days before their lives change forever – just what they were going through.
And we got to play a little football, too.
At the top of the bill was this year’s Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. RGIII seems incredibly well-prepared to handle the onslaught of pressure that’s heading his way now that the Washington Redskins – the team that’s lined up perfectly to select him in round one of the NFL Draft Thursday night – have given up a king’s ransom to get him.
“I feel really good,” he said when we asked him about it. “Some would look at is as pressure because they gave up so many picks, but I look at it as they believe in the product. I’m that investment that they’re making and they believe in me so I’m going to do everything I possibly can to prove them right. There’s no pressure. Of course the fans are going to want immediate success, but every football player wants immediate success. My expectations of me and my teammates will always be higher than anybody else’s.”
His life has been a whirlwind since the Heisman Trophy, leading up to the frenzy that is Draft Week.
“You start to choke up now, because everything you have worked for is finally coming to fruition,” RGIII told us. “I’m excited, I’m elated, I look back on all the hard work my parents put into me and my two sisters and finally I get a chance to not only help myself be financially secure but also to help them be financially secure. Getting drafted is so much more about other people than it is about you. I’ll cherish this moment.”
Running back Trent Richardson, a two-time national champion at Alabama and someone about to be chosen right near the top, reflected on the past few days in a similar fashion.
“It’s been great to even have my name mentioned in the top four or five,” he told us. “A lot of people say that it’s nerve-wracking, but it’s not. It’s a lot of fun.”
Alabama has six players that’ll get taken in the first round alone. Richardson’s Crimson Tide teammate Courtney Upshaw, a hulking defensive tackle, laughed when I asked him what it would be like going against guys in the NFL that he’d spent so much time with the past four seasons winning championships.
“We always joke around about who’s going to be drafted first,” he said with a chuckle. “We always say Trent’s going to be the first one. But to get the opportunity to play against all my teammates – especially on the offensive side of the ball – is going to be great. I always told ‘em that I’m gonna blast ‘em when I get the chance.”
Melvin Ingram, the intense defensive end from South Carolina, is humbled by the entire experience.
“It’s been a crazy roller coaster, just going through the whole process,” he told us. “But it also feels like time is moving so slowly. It’s just a blessing. From the first day I was born this is all I ever wanted to do.”
NCAA Football 13 was on display too, as a pre-alpha version was available for us to try. We pitted Southern Mississippi against the RGIII-less Baylor Bears, and the game is shaping up nicely. Easily noticeable were significantly better screen pass and play action mechanics, and the updated tacking was impressive as well. We’ll have a full-scale preview of the game in May as well as an in-depth analysis of its development path with Producer Ben Haumiller on an upcoming Box Score podcast.
In the meantime, while we were tempted to pick up the on-display Heisman Trophy and pose with it in the iconic stance, cooler heads prevailed and we simply stood next to it. But we can’t say we weren’t tempted.