Ten years ago, on April 21, 2010, former Clemson All-American running back C.J. Spiller was on location in New York City getting ready to attend the NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall the following night.
On the eve of this year’s NFL Draft, which begins at 8 p.m. tomorrow night, Spiller joined Out of Bounds with William Qualkinbush and Kelly Gramlich on WCCP 105.5 FM The Roar to reflect on his own draft experience.
Spiller was out and about in the community with fellow draft invitees the day before, so there was a lot going on to distract him from thinking about what the next day had in store for him. But even the night before, lying in his hotel room, Spiller didn’t have any trouble sleeping like many other players in his position might have as they awaited one of the biggest days of their lives.
“They had us doing some type of activity, like some community type activity, throughout the day,” said Spiller, who was named to the 2020 Athletic Hall of Fame Class at Clemson earlier this week. “We visited St. Jude’s Hospital, so we went to see some kids, did a Play 60 event. So, we were actually out in the community doing stuff, and then that night, I was able to grab dinner at this little seafood spot with my family and Coach Swinney and his family. So, we kind of just hung out for a little bit, and then I did my thing, went to the room, watched TV and fell asleep.”
As he sat in the green room on draft night, Spiller had two cell phones on hand – his normal one for communication with friends and family, and then a new one he purchased solely for the purpose of being contacted by NFL teams.
Fortunately for Spiller, he didn’t have to wait long for the second phone to ring. The Buffalo Bills called him early in the first round to let him know they would be selecting him with the No. 9 overall pick.
“For most guys, most guys were advised by probably their agent to get another phone, just because you don’t want your family or your friends trying to call you when a team is trying to call you at the same time,” Spiller said on Out of Bounds. “So, for me, my agent just advised me to get a whole new phone so that way, that phone was strictly for nothing but NFL teams, I wouldn’t have any interruption. But I put my other phone on silent, and obviously I was in the green room, so I had my phone right there in front of my face so when a team did call, I could see the area code and what city the call was incoming from.”
To the same end, Spiller has a little advice for the players sitting at home tomorrow night preparing to get that fateful call from an NFL team during this year’s draft, which will take place in a fully virtual format due to COVID-19.
“I would advise them to try to, if they’re in those group chats, to put those things on the ‘hide alert’ because you don’t want to miss the most important call,” Spiller said.
The process leading up to the NFL Draft has been a lot different this year with the coronavirus precluding teams from meeting with players in person and holding individual workouts for them.
For Spiller, he was able to participate in workouts with the Bills, Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars. But more important than the workouts themselves was the face time he got to have with coaches and other personnel at NFL team facilities, something the players in this year’s draft did not have much opportunity to do.
“I think it’s a chance for teams just to get to know the person, not the player,” Spiller said. “They know who the player is, they’ve watched a ton of tape from the scouts giving their reports on you. So, they just want to bring you in and get to know who you are as a person. So, I think that’s the key point that a lot of these guys, and obviously a lot of these teams, missed out on because they didn’t have a chance to bring these guys into their facility to get a chance to sit down and get to know them as individuals. I think that’s a huge disadvantage, but I’m pretty sure these teams did all their homework that they need to do, and sometimes some of these draft boards will already be set before this stuff even starts. So, I’m pretty sure these teams are going to continue to do their homework. Even when they get the guy, they’re going to continue to make sure that they put him in the best situation that he needs to be in.”
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