Fresno State seems to be an ideal proving ground of sorts for future NFL players, especially those on the offensive side. While it's not the sexy pick like USC or Florida, former Bulldogs continue to have productive NFL careers after receiving the pro-style tutelage of Pat Hill, Fresno State's head coach. Names like Bernard Berrian, Michael Pittman, Logan Mankins, David Carr, Derrick Ward, Lorenzo Neal, Richard Marshall and several others have made the leap, and that's exactly what Seyi Ajirotutu hopes can happen as well.
The talented wide receiver led the Bulldogs in every receiving category last year in a run-first offense, perhaps keeping Ajirotutu from having a higher-profile than he does now. But he hopes his time at the Combine becomes a catalyst for such notoriety. Here's our Q&A with the receiver that Marty Schottenheimer praised again and again at the East-West Shrine Game.
Q: What are you expecting to run?
A: A 4.5. But my personal goal is to get a 4.49. But I'll run a 4.5.
Q: Are you getting any idea of where you may fit in the draft?
A: I'm not sure. I'm not positive right now. Basically, how I do for the next couple of days will help determine where I go and who I go to. I'm not really sure, but I'm not really worried about that right now. I'm just wanting to do the best I can possibly do.
Q: How would you describe your game?
A: Um, a big man's game. I'm trying to be a big man playing a little man's game. I'm trying to be quick, be fast, and do all the things I'm supposed to do -- run quick routes and play as hard as I possibly can.
Q: Do you think you can play outside or the slot receiver?
A: Well, I've only played outside, so I'll probably stay on the outside. It wouldn't hurt to try it, but I don't know if it would be my bread and butter.
Q: Some of the comparisons of your game are to Vincent Jackson and that style. Is that something you appreciate?
A: Yeah, he's a big guy. He's fast. He's excellent. He's real, real good. Plus he's catching touchdowns. [Laughs]
Q: Coach Marty Schottenheimer had such good things to say about you. Did you hear those comments?
A: Yeah, he said it three times to me. I thought he'd forgotten who I was, but he said it three times. [Laughs]
Q: What do you do when he says that?
A: Just keep doing what I'm doing basically. Work as hard as I can. A compliment from Coach Schottenheimer is the ultimate compliment. He's been a great coach and played and everything like that. I'm not going to get too hung up on it, but I just want to keep playing to the best of my ability and keep working.
Q: What are you hoping to accomplish here in Indy?
A: Run well. Impress scouts. Just basically reinvent what people think about it. I ran a 4.66 at the Pro Day back at Fresno State, but I'm faster than that. I'm just anxious to let people see what I can do. I'm a smart player who likes to play hard and do whatever I can to win. I want to win at all costs, whether I'm catching the ball or whether I'm helping a back into the end zone.
Q: How does the system you played in at Fresno State help you at the next level? Does that play well for you in the NFL?
A: It does, because it was a pro-style offense. We ran two-back formations just like the Patriots or the Chargers or anybody. That's an easy transition for me. Just like the East-West Shrine game, Coach Schottenheimer had us in two-back formations and I already knew all of this stuff. I could draw up all the plays. It didn't matter. It was just easy for me.
A guy like Emmanuel Sanders from SMU, it was harder for him because it was a spread team. It was harder for him to learn and know all the stuff he needed to learn like power or pro-style offense, but I was accustomed to that since we ran it every single day. Plus the formations were all the same. They were called something different, but they were the same.
Q: Do you feel there's an ideal situation for you to step into?
A: It'd be great to be in a pro-style system like this. It'd also be great to be in a system where there's young guys. Of course, if there are veterans there, that's great too, since I can learn from those guys. But to be in a system where I can go in and compete for a job, I don't really want to sit on the bench or not make the team. Also, a system where there's an established quarterback, that's what I want to do. But if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. All of the quarterbacks in the NFL are obviously good, so they'll get the ball to you either way. But that's my thought process on that.