Brian Poole waited patiently.
When Antonio Morrison and Jake McGee’s letters showed up inviting them to the Senior Bowl Poole expected to receive one as well. When that didn’t arrive he accepted an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game, still hoping for a chance to get a Senior Bowl invitation based on his performance at the Shrine Game. Poole recorded an interception, that he took 99 yards the other way for a touchdown, but sustained an injury during the game and the Senior Bowl invitation never arrived.
I got hurt in the East/West Shrine Game,” Poole said about his collarbone injury. “They said that was kind of the season, but I don’t know.”
Poole went back to Boca, where he has been training with Tony Villani at XPE sports. He continued waiting, this time for another invitation, the one that every draft eligible player wants to receive — an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine.
The combine invitation, much like the Senior Bowl invitation, must have gotten lost in the mail, leaving Poole dumbfounded.
“I mean yea,” Poole said when asked if he was surprised to find out that he wasn’t invited. “I ain’t even think it was a chance I wouldn’t get invited, but I mean, you know can’t control it. Control the controllable and everything will take care of itself.”
Getting ready for the NFL Draft is a lot of marketing. Every player will have an agent that is tasked with selling the prospect to each NFL teams in hopes that at least one will buy the pitch, believe in the player and make them a selection on draft day. Part of that means getting exposure and Poole had just missed out on two of the biggest events he could have attended to maximize that exposure to all 32 teams.
“Him not coming to the combine kind of surprised me, too,” projected top-10 pick Vernon Hargreaves said of his former teammate. “But he’s a level-headed kid. Talking to him about it, he didn’t let it faze him, didn’t let it affect him.”
The situation wasn’t ideal, but Poole was forced to put all of his eggs in one basket. Thanks in part to teammates like Hargreaves, Jon Bullard and Keanu Neal all working out on Tuesday, Poole would have a stage with more than 70 scouts from all 32 NFL teams to perform on.
The opportunity was too good not to show up for.
“He can’t control what they say or think after he’s done. He just kept his mouth shut and worked,” safety Keanu Neal said of his former teammate and pre-draft training partner. “He was down there in Boca with me, and every day he came in and worked. It showed today. He did a great job and he showcased his skills.”
Poole’s wait paid off. The corner ran a reported 4.49 40-yard dash, a number that would have tied him for 14th at the NFL Scouting Combine, and a faster time than Hargreaves.
“He came out here, he worked hard, he busted his ass out here,” Hargreaves said of Poole. “I think the rest is going to play out really good for him.”
Poole’s biggest asset is his versatility. He’s a physical tackler who plays well up on at the line of scrimmage. He can play nickel, as well as special teams. When NFL teams pare down a roster to 53 players, versatility and the want, desire and ability to excel on special teams can drastically change the phone call or meeting you get with a general manager during the final round of roster cuts.
Poole has meetings scheduled with several NFL teams this month and he’ll likely get a few extra phone calls after his performance at Florida’s Pro Day. Unlike a lot of other prospects Poole only got one opportunity to impress scouts and he certainly didn’t waste it.