It’s been called “The World’s Toughest Job Interview.” For six days at the NFL Combine (Feb. 22 — Feb. 28), 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, more than two dozen prospects have traveled to IMG Academy for six-plus weeks of Physical, Mental, Communication, Nutrition and Vision training with Athletic & Personal Development program specialists and on-field training with some of the game’s top football coaches through the IMG Academy football program.
It's comical now to look back at Ryan Tannehill's situation less than five years ago. Texas Tech, where Tannehill's father played college football, had no interest in him. Texas A&M put him at receiver for his first two years after other quarterbacks were considered better. Now? Tannehill is widely considered to be the third quarterback to be drafted (likely in the first round) on April 26.
Ryan Tannehill on...
...the prep football culture in west Texas: It’s definitely a big deal. The whole town, especially in the small west Texas towns, will empty out and go to the stadium. It’s probably not to the level that the movie or television show makes it, though. It’s a huge deal as a player to play for your school. Everyone has their eye on a position at a young age. I knew I wanted to be a quarterback when I was 5 or 6 years old. My dad was a coach, so I was always at practices and games throwing a ball around. I knew very early.
...his brothers and being a multi-sport athlete: Tyler is at Texas State and Tobin is a freshman in high school. Tyler had three knee injuries in high school, so he had to hang ‘em up, but he’s probably the most athletic of all of us. He could dunk before I could, and I dunked as a freshman. He even ran faster than me at the scouting combines in high school. I played basketball, football, baseball, golf and ran track growing up. I’d probably have pursued basketball if I didn’t play football. I was an outfielder and a closer in baseball because I could never finish a game as a pitcher. I’d come in, throw heat and burn myself out. My low round in golf was a 79 in high school. I’m not that good anymore.
...waiting to play quarterback in college: I constantly told everyone that I was a quarterback. I never gave up on it. I wanted to be a good receiver when I was out there, but I never even thought about moving to receiver full time. I even went to the quarterback meetings during my entire career. I never went to a receivers meeting. I had faith that things would work out, it just worked out a little later than I thought. With Texas Tech, it wasn’t a driving factor throughout my whole career, but it was a disappointment initially coming out of high school when they didn't recruit me. After we played and beat them, I’d think “Got ‘em… That’s for not recruiting me.” I’d give my dad a hard time about it, too.
...becoming an orthopedic surgeon: I had a knee scope in high school, and my interest in medicine started there. I majored in biology with a business minor. There were long days. I’d get up early and go watch tape or work out. Go to class. Go watch film and have meetings. Have practice. Go to dinner, then go watch film of practice. I’d get home at 8:30 or so, then study and do homework. It was tough. Football was always my number one goal, but I wanted to make sure I had a good backup plan that I could fall back on. Fortunately, I have the opportunity to pursue my dream. It’s tough to say if I’ll go back and do med school and residency after my career, but never say never.
...his non-traditional wedding: I met my wife when I was a freshman and we got married this past January. We did a destination wedding in Mexico. Unfortunately, I had to crutch down the aisle because I had broken my foot a couple days before. She was wheeling me around the resort in a wheelchair. It wasn’t the usual bride-to-be treatment because she was doing all the work and pushing me around.
...Pro Day scheduled for March 28: I just want to put on a good performance. I feel good moving and throwing the ball. I feel close to 100 percent, so I’m looking forward to going out there and making all of the throws accurately, with good velocity, good arc and pace, good ball location. Most guys had a chance to put on a show at the Combine, and I had to just sit back and watch, which is tough as a competitor.
...working with IMG Academy football program Director Chris Weinke: He’s been around a while and knows a lot about the game. I feel like I’ve gotten so much better since I’ve been here with my feet and my foot placement. The foundation of a quarterback is your feet. If your feet are right, you are going to be accurate with the ball. Even just those few things have really improved my accuracy and overall game.
...what he would tell a GM thinking of drafting him: I’m a guy who can help take your team to a Super Bowl and win it. I’m accurate. I have the athletic ability to move around the pocket or escape pressure and throw on the run. I feel like that adds a whole new dynamic to an offense if you can move the pocket and throw on the run. I feel like I have the intangibles like leadership and drive to take a team to the next level. I’m not happy with just winning. I’m a perfectionist. Just because I complete a pass doesn't mean the ball couldn't have been thrown better. I’m driven to be the best. Unfortunately if you don’t pick me, you’re going to have to play against me.