With the end of the regular season in college football comes the next step in the process. The work is never ending for those looking to go on to the NFL. It’s time to impress the scouts at the all-star games across the country. The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl is the venue for UCLA’s trio of Obi Eboh, Brittain Brown, and Qwuantrezz Knight.
A week of working out with NFL coaches, and in front of NFL scouts will culminate Saturday at the Rose Bowl with the 10th annual NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
All three of the UCLA representatives came to Westwood as grad transfers in 2020. That turned out to be a Covid shortened season. The three chose to take advantage of the free year of eligibility granted by the NCAA and return to Westwood for a sixth season.
Learning From The Pros
Now it is time to show that their two years of production at UCLA translates into a shot at the pros. Eboh and Knight are on the National team, coached by former NFL coach Marvin Lewis. Brown is on the American team, coached by former Titans and Rams coach Jeff Fisher. During the week of practice Fisher made news by accepting the head coaching job with the Michigan Panthers of the new version of the USFL.
Among the other coaches that are fulfilling the role of instructor for the college players this week are Jackie Slater, Rod Woodson, Wade Phillips, and Josh Cribbs.
The game highlights players from schools big and small throughout the country. There are players from Penn State, Michigan, and Notre Dame. And there are players from Southeastern Louisiana, Nicholls State, and Delta State.
Brittain’s Bright Spots
The UCLA trio gets one more game in their blue and gold helmets on their home turf. Brown is showing respect for his total educational and football journey, wearing his UCLA helmet with the Duke logo on the back for his first four years of school and undergrad degree.
In an interview with Last Word, Brown called the week, “A chance to showcase my skills. When you get out here you want to have fun, but you want to do all the right things.” He said the ones who will get the most out of the week will learn new things from the wealth of NFL coaching talent. “There are a lot of good coaches out here and you can just hear the wisdom.”
He said his head coach, Fisher, has been sharing stories about life in the NFL and what it takes to make it there as a player. “You should be able to take it all in and enjoy being with the NFL guys, because they are going to help you get to the next level,” Brown told us.
Brown, who gained 1,159 yards in his two UCLA seasons, said there is a lot to be gained off the field this week. The NFLPA puts on panels with former players and team executives talking about life in the NFL off the field. The seminars focus on finances and the pitfalls that can come with sudden fame and money. “They share their stories about what it was like going through the draft and their time in the league,” Brown said. “It’s important to take that in because a lot of guys make mistakes.”
Better Late Than Never For Eboh
Eboh has not had as much time with the coaches this week. He was a late addition to the rosters, literally. With an injury to another player, a spot opened up. Eboh was down in San Diego working out with his personal trainer. His phone was blowing up but he was trying to stay focused on the workouts. He finally gave in and looked to see who was trying so fervently to get a hold of him. When he saw it was his agent, he realized he needed to return that call immediately.
He was told he had an hour to get some clothes together and be on the road to Pasadena. He said the hurried journey was worth it. “It’s a great opportunity to show myself and compete against some great players.”
There is an immediate coaching familiarity for he and Knight. The defensive back coach for their team is UCLA and Pittsburgh Steelers great Carnell Lake. Of course he happens to be the father of their UCLA teammate Quentin Lake.
“I’m happy. I get to be back in the Rose Bowl,” Eboh told Last Word. “We didn’t get closure as far as the seniors go with the bowl game. So this is great because it feels like I get to come full circle, wearing my college helmet at the Rose Bowl.”
Eboh started his college journey at Stanford before finishing the last two years at UCLA. He said he knows there is a lot of talent from a lot of schools at an all-star game like this. Eboh hopes to be able to show the scouts some diversity in his game. “I want them to see I can be the press man, off man, be out there on special teams, or whatever they need.”
Throughout the week, there has been a bevy of scouts from the NFL, CFL, and even the newly formed USFL. They mix freely with the players’ agents throughout the workouts. They later get feedback on the players from the NFL coaches working at the Collegiate Bowl. Saturday, like most all-star games, is built around getting all the players in. The coaches are there not to win. They are there to put the players in a position to show off their skills and what they learned during the week, no matter how briefly that chance may be.