Owens wants NFL scouts to take notice of his play
By David Hale
MOBILE, Ala. — Jeff Owens started all 13 of Georgia’s games last season. His 32 tackles were a career best, and his four tackles for a loss matched his previous high.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Ledger-Enquirer
And yet, Owens has spent the past week in preparation for the Senior Bowl hoping to remind coaches, scouts and general managers that he’s still every bit the player he was three years ago.
“The whole week was crucial for me to just come in here and prove to everyone that I can play and that I’m still on the radar and let everybody know that I haven’t left,” said Owens, who is one of two Georgia players, along with fellow defensive tackle Geno Atkins, participating in today’s Senior Bowl. “I’m still here, and I’m just trying to showcase my talent and my ability and trying to turn some heads and let everyone know that Jeff Owens is on the scene.”
Owens was projected as an early round draft pick following his junior season in 2007, but a torn ACL just eight plays into his senior season cost him all of 2008 and shuffled him to the back of the minds of many NFL talent evaluators.
So with three months remaining before the 2010 NFL draft, today’s contest in Mobile, Ala., provides Owens with one final chance to prove that he’s still deserving of the same hype he had early in his career, and that his knee is now fully healed.
“That was a big part of wanting to come out and let everybody know my knee’s fine, and I’m ready to play, and I’m ready to play at the next level,” Owens said.
Knowing his opportunities to prove himself to scouts won’t get much bigger than this could be a bit of pressure on Owens, but he said he’s been enjoying the process.
Owens began training with Competitive Edge Sports in Atlanta in early January, hoping to get prepared for this week’s practice and the upcoming NFL combine.
While his work with CES has been a challenge and a chance to work on fundamentals and technique, Owens said spending the week practicing alongside the top senior talent in college football has taken things to another level.
“It’s just like in training camp,” Owens said. “You’re coming in and you’re competing — competing for a job.
“That’s what we’re doing here, just trying to compete against the best. Because this is the best of the best of college football.”
Off the field Owens has enjoyed the occasionally intimidating process of meeting with NFL executives to talk about the business side of professional football.
It should probably come as no surprise that one of Georgia’s most sociable players has been a hit when it comes to schmoozing talent evaluators, but Owens said he’s gotten a lot out of the process.
“It’s been great,” he said. “I had a chance to meet with quite a few teams and just let them know what I’m all about, and they’re telling me what they’re all about and how their program runs and the type of guys they look for when they draft.”
The hope, Owens said, is that he fits the bill for at least a few teams, but he also knows that his performance in today’s game will go a long way.
But regardless of the final verdict of scouts, Owens said the experience of preparing for the Senior Bowl has been well worth the effort.