Thursday, April 20, 2006
George Mason senior forward Jai Lewis will take another step toward what he hopes will be a career in pro football this afternoon, auditioning for at least eight NFL teams at an Alexandria training center.
As of yesterday evening, the New York Giants, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins planned to send representatives to Lewis's one-man combine at Velocity Sports Performance, where Lewis has been training for the past week.
The 6-foot-5, 290-pound Lewis hired Jeff Jankovich of Capital Football Associates last Thursday, and representatives from the agency have been shuttling him from classes and exams to his workouts and back. He has spent four days training with Walt Cline , Velocity's director of athlete development, and Leonard Stephens , the former Redskins and Detroit Lions tight end. Yesterday, while being shadowed by an ESPN crew, they spent 40 minutes analyzing and tweaking the first few strides of Lewis's 40-yard dash, and another hour on agility and flexibility drills.
This morning, Lewis will fill out paperwork and take written tests, including the Wonderlic. In the afternoon, he will be weighed and measured; will be tested in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and standing broad jump; and will perform agility and position drills for tight ends and linemen. Afterward, he is expected to go to Cincinnati to work out for the Bengals.
"It's a job interview," said Lewis, who helped lead George Mason to the Final Four before deciding to pursue an NFL career. "I'm going out there with a shirt and tie on and a smile on my face, going out there to get a job."
Lewis has not yet started a weightlifting regimen, but he has altered his diet. He is in the habit of eating just one large meal a day. Yesterday, it was a bowl of cereal.
Both Cline and Jankovich said that after just four days of training, their client's times this afternoon are less important than his potential, with the NFL draft set for April 29-30.
"It's tough to teach a guy to be 6-5, 280 or 290 pounds and to move like that," Cline said. "I'll never have enough time to prepare him, but we're just doing as much as we can in a short time."
-- Dan Steinberg