In case you missed the first part of Craig Carey's Big Adventure, click here. That's the background of how he's training like crazy for UC's Pro Day so he'll have a shot to continue his football career in the NFL.
Now, let's talk about his chances for impressing a scout or two on March 10 when most of the NFL teams invade the UC weight room and Nippert Stadium to measure, weigh and inspect each of the now former Bearcats.
Look, Carey isn't dense. He realizes his climb to pro football is steep, if not completely vertical. He's seen former Bearcats long shots have strong Pro Days only to be left on the outside of the league looking in. He knows a player in his position - a player not many college football fans outside of this city know much about - is an afterthought to the team representatives who will be attendance mostly to watch Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard.
But he knows there's a chance, however slim. He knows he'll have a shot to impress.
"Hopefully the scouts come and see my ability and that everything goes well," Carey said. "Hopefully I'll get some individual workouts and go from there."
Carey also has secured the services of Xam Sports, the same agency that represents his good buddy, Connor Barwin. That only will help him in talks with possible employers.
tight end - a position Carey hasn't played since his junior year at Elder - his
biggest strength is his hands. You might remember them from the
But other than that catch, there's not much tape of what Carey could look like as an NFL tight end. That's probably a bit of a hindrance.
"It can be. It probably is," Carey said. "But it's kind of intriguing. Maybe scouts see I'm going to do the whole tight end thing, and now it leaves their mind open to see what I can do at that position. Not having any film probably hurts me, but I'm hoping they come in with an open mind and ask themselves, 'What can he do for us?'"
There also is something worse than no tape in the minds of NFL scouts. And that's bad tape.
"You have to have a really good Pro Day, and you have to have good tape," Barwin said. "The thing is Craig can have a really good Pro Day, but I can tell you that he's not going to have bad tape. There are guys who have a really good Pro Day and do all this stuff, but put him on a football field, and they have bad tape. That's the problem. Not having tape can be an issue, but it'd be worse to have bad tape."
When I was talking to Carey and Barwin a few weeks ago, I tried to think of the last two UC Pro Days I covered and who, if anybody, had a good enough Pro Day to turn themselves from a long shot into a potential prospect. Didn't happen for Terrill Byrd or Earnest Jackson or Dominick Goodman. Maybe Haruki Nakamura, but I think the Ravens liked him from the very beginning. We couldn't think of anybody.
But that doesn't mean Carey can't be the trailblazer.
"Right now, nobody pops into my head, but I really hope I'm the first to do it," he said. "I know a lot of people would say it's a long shot. And it obviously is a long shot. But with my ability, I can turn some heads and things can work out for the best."
"I'll tell you what's going to happen," Barwin said. "This is what I learned through the process. They all don't think the same. All the coaches, all the personnel people don't think the same. Some people will look at him and think exactly what you said: 'He hasn't played in five years. I'm not even going to consider that.' There will be a half-dozen teams that say that. Then there might be one or 10 who say, 'This is kind of intriguing. We won't have to draft him; we won't have to pay him a bunch of money. Why not bring him in as a fourth tight end at training camp and see how he does?'
"That's all it takes to get a foot in the door. Somebody could pop an injury, something happens and he gets on practice squad for a year and he gets a coach that really likes him. There are so many ways that guys get in the league, stay in the league and get out of the league. It's never a traditional pattern with how things work out.
"I played defensive end in the league - it's only been one year, and I'm nothing near any kind of personnel guy - but I go against tight ends and he can play tight end in the league. There are things he'll have to do. He's have a lot he'll have to learn, but when you talk about raw talent on a football field and seeing what guys in the league can do, he can do it. He just needs to pull all the small things together, and he'll give himself a chance."