Justin Senior hasn’t grown weary with the demanding process of becoming a professional football player.
The Mississippi State offensive lineman is busy preparing for the school’s pro day Wednesday, the latest opportunity for Senior to audition before NFL scouts leading up to the draft April 27-29 in Philadelphia.
It’s been a hectic off-season already for the six-foot-five, 331-pound Senior, who played in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 28 before competing last month at the NFL combine after helping the Bulldogs beat Miami (Ohio) 17-16 in the St. Petersburg Bowl on Dec. 26.
Surprisingly, the 22-year-old Montreal native is finding it easier to stay energized and invigorated now than he did during Mississippi State’s season.
“All I do is work out and go perform when it’s time to perform,” Senior said. “Oh yeah, I’m enjoying the process because it’s all I do now, I don’t have to do school.
“It’s weird. I’ve been doing school for so long that now to be completely done is just a weird feeling.”
Senior completed his undergraduate degree in sociology in 2015 and is one class away from earning his political science degree. He would like to pursue a master’s degree sometime down the road.
“You’ve got to be a jack of all trades in almost all jobs now,” Senior said.
Senior was a three-year starter at Mississippi State. He received the 2016 Kent Hull Trophy as the state of Mississippi’s top offensive lineman and was named a first-team Southeastern Conference all-star by Pro Football Focus.
Senior started 39-of-49 games at Mississippi State, 38 coming at right tackle and the other on the left side. He was also recognized for his prowess in the classroom, being named to the SEC academic honour roll three straight years (2013-15).
He was the CFL scouting bureau’s top-ranked prospect for the 2017 draft. But any team taking Senior can expect to wait because he’s projected as a potential fourth- or fifth-round NFL pick.
Mike Mayock, the NFL Network’s draft guru, wouldn’t be surprised to see Senior go earlier than that.
“Typically I’d have him as a fifth-round guy,” Mayock said. “But he could go in the third or fourth round because it’s a tough class and he’s got some upside.
“I thought he was a little bit overwhelmed early in the Senior Bowl, and all of a sudden by mid-week, it seemed to click. He’s got length, he’s got size.”
Senior said he’s been open to speaking with CFL officials this off-season, but he has had little to no contact with them due to his NFL prospects.
Senior posted a time of 5.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine as well as a 23-inch vertical jump and eight-foot, two-inch broad jump. But he didn’t participate in the bench press due to shoulder tendinitis that developed during the season.
Senior said he’ll bench on his pro day and expects to compete in all other drills.
“I want to show people I’m not afraid to bench,” he said. “The tendinitis in my shoulder isn’t anything serious, I just wanted to make sure I took the necessary time for it to heal because it’s something that did happen during the season.
“I also wish I ran faster (at combine) but that’s something I want to improve upon at my pro day.”
Although this won’t be Senior’s first workout before pro officials, he fully expects to experience a few butterflies on his pro day just like he has prior to every other session.
“It’s the biggest audition, the biggest job interview of my life,” he said. “We’re still in the middle of the process so I really don’t have anything to be proud of.
“I haven’t completed anything. I mean, I did the Senior Bowl and combine but that’s just a part of it. There’s still a lot left to do looking past my pro day towards being ready for OTAs (organized team activities) and summer camp.”
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press