Pro Day Results

I just got done with Pro Day yesterday and overall this whole process has gone very well.  I knew I had pro day really as my only opportunity to make a statement for myself.  With no combine invite or post-season all star game, pro day was my only chance I had to turn some heads. I think I made a pretty strong case for myself.

My Numbers look like this.

Height: 6’7.6

Weight: 335lbs

Arm Length: 34 7/8″

Wing Span: 83″

225lbs: 21 reps

40 time: 5.30

Vertical Jump: 27″

Broad Jump: 8’1

I think these results show that I’m very large and pretty athletic as well.  To get in the NFL  I’ve heard you need size, strength & speed.

However, one of the scouts told me yesterday that it isn’t always the most athletic, or strongest linemen that wins the battle, it’s the one with the longest arms.  I guess they really liked that I have almost a 7 foot wingspan and about 35 inch long arms.

I’m just hoping that my combination is enough to get my name called at the end of April in the NFL draft.

I’d like to avoid this mess that free agency will be.  When ever this lockout is over, free agency will open up and it will be a busy time for everyone, with NFL free agency and all the existing NFL players and all the players that are usually invited to camp after the draft all available to be signed.

Until the draft, I’m just going to continue doing what I’ve been doing.  Rise & grind.  Try to use everyday as an opportunity to get better, in the weight room and on the field.

Thanks to all the fans who showed up for the autograph session at Sierra Gold last night, I had a great time talking to some of the fans here in Reno.

I look forward to seeing some more fans Thursday night from 4-6pm at Silver and Blue Outfitters in Meadow wood mall, and on Sunday at our ring ceremony in the Eldorado.


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10 days from Pro day

I just got done another week of training. I spent about an hour and a half this morning working on offensive line drills and the agility drills that I am going to be tested on for pro day.  I’m making strides and getting better at them each and every day.

Thankfully I’ve had some favorable weather to train outside lately.  Those snow days cost me a few days of training earlier on. Now I know why most people generally leave to train somewhere else like Arizona or Florida because I’m sure they didn’t miss training because of snow days.

Hard to believe that I’m training as hard as I can to try and get a chance to play a game that’s in a lockout right now. It leaves a lot of unknowns for us as players.

For example, if I’m lucky enough to get drafted, what do I do then? There wouldn’t be any mini-camps, I don’t get any money, how do I get by if this lockout goes for an extended period of time. I imagine I can only live on my agents dime for so long before I’d have to get a regular job like everyone else.

The even more stressful scenario would be if I didn’t get drafted, because usually after the draft a good amount of players get picked up as Free Agents and a lot of them end up on the 53 man roster at the end of camp, or even perhaps the practice roster.  If I didn’t get drafted I would kind of be in limbo. Or as it’s been explained to me, it would be like they cancelled my flight at the airport and I would be waiting to see when the next flight would be.  Which could take months.

I know I’ve already been drafted into the CFL, but if I do report to the CFL I have to sign a contract which is a guaranteed 2 years.  CFL players like me, non-import offensive linemen who would be able to contribute generally make pretty decent money. But in 2 years I wouldn’t make what I would make in 1 NFL season.  So hopefully they can get this lockout over with ASAP, so us players stop worrying about all these different scenarios.

I know everyone wants their to be a football season next year.

Only 10 days remain until pro day on March 22nd.  I’m really excited to be able to have the opportunity to show my strength and athleticism in these drills.  I’ve heard that we have confirmation that all 32 teams will have at least 1 scout in attendance at our pro day. Which is great to hear.

After pro day is over, you can join me for a bite to eat at Sierra Gold on South Meadows at 6pm on March 22nd. I along with a few other players who are competing in pro day will be there.

I will also be at Silver and Blue Outfitters sometime that week for an autograph session.

Then on March 27th me and the rest of the players are excited to get our Championship rings, so I have a lot to look forward to in this coming month.

I’ll be sure to give an update after pro day, hopefully with good results!



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Getting ready for March 22nd

I’ve been asked by a lot of people over my twitter account (John_W_Bender) and by friends and family to give an update on my training so here it goes.

After the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl I returned to Reno, and found out shortly after that that I was not invited to the NFL combine or to any major all star games. This definitely came as a surprise to me, I was being told before the year and during the year that I should be going to both, but I guess my sources on these topics weren’t entirely accurate.

Since then I have signed with Ken Sarnoff from Gaylord Sports. He has an impressive client list including Nate Burleson and Chester Taylor among others.  A lot of agents offered me different things enticing me to sign with them, from super bowl tickets, to a rental hummer, basically you name it they offered it.   But at the end of the day I know that I don’t want to get my money from an agent, I want to get my money from playing the game I love,  from that NFL paycheck.  I thought my agent I chose would give me the best opportunity to do that.

I then decided to train in Reno, with our strength coaches here.  Its a very familiar situation for me, and I have seen gains already from my training.  I’ve been working hard and plan to turn some heads here at pro day  on March 22nd.

I’ve seen my name thrown around from being a mid-round pick to being an un-drafted FA. All I really want is an opportunity in a camp somewhere, I think I can prove what I have to everyone there.This whole situation really isn’t that new to me, I was lightly recruited out of high school. I wasn’t a 5 star recruit or anything. I came to Nevada  changed positions a few times and had to work my way up the depth chart.   I’m confident something similar will happen in the NFL    I’m pretty good at adapting, I was able to start and succeed at tackle first, and then learned how to play guard during a bye week my sophomore year and started against UNLV the next week, and never really looked back.

I appreciate the support I’ve gotten from family, friends and  fans and if anyone would like to know anything else, let me know, leave a comment. I plan on blogging a few more times before pro day on March 22nd.


John W. Bender

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Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl day before the game!

We’re all getting real excited for the game here in San Francisco. The lobby of the Westin St. Francis is absolutely packed right now with Pack fans, and a lot of my teammates are currently spending time with friends and family much like me. 

Today we got to participate in another rare opportunity, we were fortunate enough to help out at the Glide Foundation.  We were able to help feed a lot of hungry people today and hopefully they left satisfied.  I know a lot of the players left satisfied, it was an opportunity for us to see how fortunate we are as college athletes.  That no matter how difficult we think things are in front of us, its nothing compared to worrying about where your next meal is coming from.  A lot of the people who came in to eat knew who the Nevada football team was and that we beat Boise State, and that we were playing in the bowl game this week.  Asked us who we thought was going to win the national championship etc. It was a great experience for all of us and we all now have a good grasp of the true meaning of this bowl game. 

The rest of the day was our typical day before the game routine. We had a walk through, went and saw AT&T stadium (it’s look great by the way!)  We watched our day before the game video.  As an oline we set our goals that we want to accomplish in the game and we had team dinner, with a movie after.  

Tomorrow we will finally get to sleep in a little bit, have our morning walk through, hopefully get a pre-game nap in. Have our pre-game meal then it’s off to the stadium and it’s game time!  

Hopefully we will have a nice trip back to Reno knowing we finished this season off right with a W!

Enjoy the game Pack fans.

John W. Bender

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Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Day # 3

It was another day in San Francisco, I can tell you that all of us are just itching to play this game already.  We’ve had about enough of these banquets and bowl festivities and want to get out on that field, hear the roar of the crowd and watch that opening kickoff take place and know that it’s game time!

Until then we all just have to wait in anticipation and go through these bowl events.  Today we mixed things up a little bit and had practice in the afternoon, we had our last practice at Laney Junior College which is a nice facility, but I can tell you we’re all excited we don’t have to put our pads on, get on the bus and take the bus trip out there anymore, we’re a little bit closer to game time and the anticipation is building.  I feel like I’ve gone through fall camp all over again and I’m waiting for the first game of the season, we’ve practiced, practiced and practiced, and all you want to do is fill up a stadium with people, turn a scoreboard on and hit somebody who isn’t on your team, in a situation where everything matters. 

This morning we had our usual schedule of breakfast, followed by meetings, and then we had an hour and a half or so of free time around 10:30, I was lucky enough to get a nap in, when you get to week 20 or so of the football season, I feel like at any time of the day I can take an hour or 2 hour nap without a problem. 

 At noon today we had our Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Kickoff Luncheon, we met a lot of the sponsors and people who put the bowl together, as well it was our first real experience with being in the same room with Boston College. Us players wore slacks and our game jerseys. So it was very easy to recognize who people were. We could eye out some guys we saw on film, say he’s bigger than I thought, or maybe he’s not quite as big as I thought he would be and get a good long look at the people we will be lining up against come Sunday.  Each team had their coach speak and 2 guest speakers, Boston College had Herzlich and Costanzo speak.  We had Kap and Vai get up there and talk for a little bit.  All speakers did a good job and it was interesting to hear what they had to say.  I was surprised to hear Costanzo was a Rhodes Scholar candidate, and that Kap was expecting upwards of 400 people from Turlock making the trip to this bowl game.  In typical Kaepernick fashion, he directed all questions away from his pro career and told everyone he is only focused on this game. 

After practice was over we got back to the hotel cleaned up, had dinner at 6 and then we had free time until 10.  We don’t get a lot of this free time, so it comes as a valuable commodity. It seems like everyones family is here and I am no exception. I went out to fishermans warf tonight with some family members, my mom, aunt, uncle and cousin are all here in town to see my last college game.  It almosts seems surreal when we’re doing all these things now, I can tell in my family members eyes, they’re sad it’s ending and they’ve enjoyed the experience I think as much as I have.   I can tell you there are an awful lot of Wolf Pack fans up north of the border in Canada. I think literally every game this year except for Louisiana Tech (it’s a little far from Canada I suppose) I signed tickets for people to come watch me play.  At the Idaho game I signed 26 tickets, I also had 16 at the Boise St game. As players we each get an allotment of tickets for each game, and every game I was always asking around for tickets, and all the guys would say “Bender who do you know that wants to come to that game?”  Theres a lot of Wolf Pack fans in Canada, so I guess Wolf Pack Nation has gone international to a certain extent. 

Just now when I was walking up to the hotel I was bombarded at the door by Wolf Pack fans in the street all very excited about the game and very excited to see me. A few of the fans even stopped me and called me “the blogger.” haha.  But its been great to see the pack fans take over San Francisco and I hope to see more in the next few days!

Hope you enjoyed the blog today.

John W. Bender

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Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, Blog entry #2

Hey Wolf Pack Fans

I was surprised to see how popular my blog entry has been, hope you guys have been enjoying it. It was even linked and talked about on today on Andrea Adelson’s page.

Today was another day hard at practice for us.  We had our typical bowl routine now of waking up, having breakfast, going to meetings and getting ready for practice. It was another physical practice, with contact drills.  Offensive starters going against defensive starters, but we were all excited to here at the end of practice that today was the last contact day and were gonna be getting ready for Boston College exclusively for the rest of our practices. This can only mean one thing, we’re getting close to game time!  Which after almost 5 weeks now, everyone is very excited about.

After practice was over we had an opportunity to do something I think everyone needs to do. We went to Alcatraz.  Now for me personally, growing up in Canada, I had heard about Alcatraz before and known it was in movies, but I didn’t really have a full understanding of all that it was about.  Going to the island and taking the tour was a very interesting experience.  They lead us around the island and took us right to the cells, the island and the prison are all practically intact still and left more or less exactly how it was. 

The prison cells are small, very small.  Walking in the door was a struggle for me, I had to turn sideways and duck.  Understandably I’m not typical size, being 6’8 and 325lbs.  But these cells were unbelievably small, especially the solitary confinement cell.  This solitary confinement cell they let us sit in for 30 seconds, and closed the door. It was literally so dark you couldn’t see your hand infront of your face.  I had to duck to stand in it, and I could almost touch all 4 walls if I stood in the middle of it.  They told us that prisoners had to be in there for 24 hours a day and one prisoner stayed in there for 19 days straight.  For me that was unbelievable, I couldn’t even imagine living like that for almost 3 weeks. 

A lot of famous prisoners also stayed in Alcatraz, specifically Al Capone. On the tour they have tour guides who tell you a lot more than I could ever tell you. But it was interesting to see all the players listen to the stories and ask questions, I know a lot of my teammates have trouble focusing and being serious in a lot of situations but they were all focused in and listening to these stories without a problem, very interested to hear what the guide had to say.  The rest of the guys and me will definitely remember our trip to Alcatraz. 

When we got back from Alcatraz we were given free time and I’m sure a lot of the guys are visiting with friends and family that are here to see them in the bowl game. I know my first batch of family members came in today, my uncle and my cousin arrived from Canada this afternoon. They texted me to see when I would be able to see them, I told them not until this evening, so they made arrangements to head to San Jose to catch a sharks game tonight, typical Canadians eh?

 I know they’re going to enjoy their trip to the bay area and I hope the other 20,000 or so Wolf Pack fans that we expect at the game will enjoy their experience as well.  Have a safe trip over the mountains everyone and we as players look forward to hearing that wolf pack chant at AT&T park on Sunday night. 

Hope you enjoyed another blog entry from me.

John W. Bender

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Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Hey Wolf Pack fans,  This is John Bender, I am a 5th year senior offensive linemen for the Wolf Pack.  You’ve probably seen me at games, I’m #62.  I’ve been asked to blog about my experience at the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl, I am somewhat experienced blogger and I hope you enjoy my daily entries.

January 5, 2011. 

Our team landed in San Francisco last night, we were welcomed by the bowl committee and checked in at the Westin St. Francis Hotel.  I knew this was going to be much different than other bowl games when there was a camera crew waiting for us at the airport and another one waiting for us as soon as we got off the bus at the hotel in San Francisco.  I can tell you during my last 4 bowl trips, neither of those things happened.   The committee went over rules and regulations with us, told us what areas to check out around downtown San Francisco and which areas to steer clear of, they also introduced us to a lot of the people who work behind the scenes on the bowl game, it was nice for us as players to see everyone who makes this bowl game happen. 

After dinner we were given free time for several hours and a lot of us had the opportunity to explore a bit of the city, personally I went out with a couple of the other olineman and checked out a few of the shops around downtown for clothes, and myself and others also made sure to find time to have a clam chowder bread bowl here as well.  We then checked back into our hotel were given our bed time snacks to pick up and headed to bed. 

 The Westin St. Francis is a very old yet very nice hotel, the first thing I thought about when I walked into this hotel was it was like out of a movie or something, with big ball rooms everywhere and huge stair cases, chandeliers…etc.  

Today we had practice at one of the local Junior colleges. The time off in between games for us has been awfully long, and as players this whole process gets monotonous.  Hitting each other all day every day gets old pretty quick. We’re definitely ready to hit somebody else, who’s not our teammate.  We all want to turn that scoreboard on and play a real game as quickly as possible.  Only a few more days until we get that opportunity, and we’re all very excited for it. 

This evening we went to Pier 39 as a team and went to Players, there we had a big meal, of course, and we were given free tokens to play as many of the arcade games there as we wanted for an hour or so.  Colin Kaepernick broke the record in the qb challenge football toss and amassed a whopping 700 points, when I heard about this, I had to challenge him and our game was Colin 680 points, me 260 points.  It wasn’t very close, but I figured I had a good chance to beat him, haha.  I did however beat Chad Hartley our Media Services expert for the Wolf Pack. 

 I got my revenge with Kap later, we played the hoops fever basketball challenge, where you have to score as many points as you can in 40 seconds, I got my revenge there beating him 55-25 or something, it wasn’t close, haha.  We all had a lot of fun though, it really brings out our competitive side and you could definitely see the guys were enjoying themselves.  We’re back now and currently a lot of the guys are enjoying free time and checking in with their family and friends as well. 

Today was also our Tight Ends/ OL assistant coach James Spady’s birthday.  We made sure to mention it as many times as possible to him today, and a bunch of the olinemen even got a surprise birthday sundae sent his way at dinner where we all joined in for probably one of his favorite renditions of happy birthday he’s ever heard. 

Tomorrow is more practice, and then as a team we’re going to alcatraz!

So all in all it’s been a great first 2 days for us at the bowl game and we all know that we need to practice hard and the only way to make this bowl trip truly memorable is to finish it the right way, with a W on Sunday. 

Hope you enjoyed the blog entry today.

John W. Bender

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