If C.J. Fiedorowicz didn't fully grasp what kind of microscope he will be under at the NFL Combine later this month, he does now.
The former Johnsburg and Iowa standout will be one of 22 tight ends in Indianapolis when the combine begins on Feb. 19. Since shifting his training to San Diego in early January, Fiedorowicz has focused mainly on the battery of physical drills he will be put through while NFL scouts and head coaches look on.
But if Fiedorowicz learned anything from his recent Senior Bowl experience, when he met with nearly every NFL team, it was that he has to always be on the ready in the most important football job interview of his career.
To prepare him for the constant questioning he would face in Mobile, Ala.,, Fiedorowicz's agent, Jack Bechta, advised his client to be prepared for anything. That was especially true when when he didn't feel up to participating in individual meetings with potential future employers.
"Even if you're tired, fake it," Bechta told Fiedorowicz.
Fiedorowicz made sure he followed instructions. He recalls his first meeting with six Miami Dolphins officials, who grilled him about everything from what he likes best about his game to how trustworthy he would be if he was chosen in this spring's NFL Draft.
"It's a job interview and it's a job interview you will have once in a lifetime," Fiedorowicz said. "Every scout remembers everything. If you tell them you want to go to bed, they'll remember that. They'll write it down. They look at everything you do and say.
"It's basically a big test."
Fiedorowicz said meetings with teams often came in the middle or at the end of long days that started at 7 a.m. and wrapped up at 11 p.m. Between team meetings, film sessions, practices, autograph sessions with fans and the sit-down meetings with coaches and general managers, Fiedorowicz quickly learned how to get through everything.
Even, at times, if it meant faking it, as his agent had suggested.
How he handled the daily grind, Fiedorowicz knew, would be critical. Teams are anxious to see how players deal with stressful situations. In practice, Fiedorowicz was pushed by his Senior Bowl position coach, Atlanta Falcons tight ends coach Chris Scelfo. The Falcons are considered to be one one of Fiedorowicz's top suitors. That gave the 6-foot-5, 265-pound blocking and pass-catching tight end incentive to never let down – especially when he knew so many eyes were on him.
The upside, Fiedorowicz said, quickly became evident.
"It just prepared me for what's coming at the combine," he said. "Every time I would think (the hectic schedule) kind of (stinks) or these workouts (stink) or waking up early is terrible, I would just think about how there's a lot of people dying to be in my shoes and that I just have to push through it.
"I've been training my whole life to get to this point and to relax now would be stupid on my part."