It's been called âThe World's Toughest Job Interview.â For six days at the NFL Combine (Feb. 24-March 2), college football's best will be measured, interviewed, tested, watched and analyzed by countless NFL coaches, general managers and scouts conducting all of their due diligence before the NFL Draft. To prepare, nearly two dozen prospects have traveled to IMG Academy for six-plus weeks of Physical, Mental, Communication, Nutrition, Vision and psychological training with Athletic & Personal Development program specialists and on-field training with some of the game's top football coaches.
Every day, Roy Upchurch wakes up at 5:20 a.m. and makes the hour-plus drive south to IMG Academy for a full day of workouts before driving back to Tampa in the evening. A year removed from his University of Alabama graduation, Upchurch cannot participate in the NFL Combine. However, that doesn't dissuade the 6-foot, 215-pound running back from preparing for individual tryouts with NFL teams. Upchurch recently talked about winning a national championship, Nick Saban, his inspiration and what fuels him to succeed.
Roy Upchurch on...
...his memories of Alabama's National Championship: I'm getting goose bumps just thinking about it. Guys dream about winning a national championship all through middle school and high school, but most don't get to accomplish it. I was fortunate, and it was a dream come true. It's a stepping stone to make me want to win another one, hopefully in the NFL, and be a champion again.
I have vivid memories of the whole game, but it happened so fast. I still have the memorabilia and jerseys. My national championship ring is in a safe deposit box. I've also got a couple of other rings and jerseys there to keep them protected.
...the toughest place to play: For me, itwas Baton Rouge. That was the loudest stadium I've ever been in. People say Gainesville is the loudest, but in Death Valley, when they start chanting and cannons are going off, it can be intimidating.
...Nick Saban's coaching style: I call him a humble drill sergeant. He wants everything done his way, and if it isn't, you're not in his program. He's a great guy and his attitude about winning affects everyone he's around. He's hard-nosed and wants perfection.
He came my redshirt junior year. In the transition, I kind of rebelled and went against him, which hurt me. I saw everyone having success and no struggles and realized it was me being dumb. I bought in and started playing better, getting better grades. The turnaround was definitely good for me.
...backing up Glen Coffee and Mark Ingram: I wouldn't change a thing. I was out there with those guys. I was their eyes when they were in the game, and they were my eyes when I was in the game. Some succeeded and others succeeded more. Our bond helped each other grow. We pushed each other to the verge of passing out. Glen Coffee set the tone. He'll go from laughing and joking with you before practice to not saying a word to anybody during practice. He instilled in everyone that focus and work ethic.
...taking care of his ailing grandmother as a high school student: I remember getting home from a basketball game once and walked in on her having a stroke. That changed my life. I started taking things more serious and it motivated me to do better. It really humbled me. The whole experience made me a better person. It made me care about people other than myself, which is how everyone should live.
In the 1960s, she was in a car wreck and almost lost both of her feet. Having to watch her limp around and battle just to do things like go to the grocery store showed me how determined she was. That determination is still inside me whenever I train or go on the field or anything.
...if he wasn't a football player: I'd be trying to motivate someone who has the potential to do what's right, as far as going to school, staying out of trouble and being focused, rather than running the streets. I'd probably be a juvenile probation officer. I had a rough childhood, and I have a story to tell. There's a better life than just throwing it away. Utilize your potential.
...what gets him out of bed at 5:20 every morning: I feel like that I have something to accomplish. I'm not here to just meet new guys and hang out. It's not college anymore. I have to accept responsibility and do what I have to do. I have a dream to accomplish.I have a dream of playing in the NFL, and that drives me every day.
I want to prove to the world that I'm able to play in the NFL. I want to show everyone that I've changed from somewhat of a rebel in college to a hard-working and honest young man. In the last year, I watched football every Sunday, and I know I belong out there. I want to do everything I can to be ready and accountable.
...his chances of making it in the NFL: Very high, because I'm not going to quit or back down. I'm determined to overcome anything thrown my away. I have to prove myself. That's my biggest goal, and I'm destined to do it.