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Mike Naples Blog: Pro Day Is Coming And The Nerves Are Setting In

Mike Naples works out at the TEST Parisi Football Academy. (Photo by Kristyna Barbella/KBMultimedia.com)

Mike Naples works out at the TEST Parisi Football Academy. (Photo by Kristyna Barbella/KBMultimedia.com)

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By Kristian Dyer and Mike Naples
» More Columns

MARTINSVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – It’s gotten real for me this week.

Last week, I told you about my life and the long days that are part of training for the NFL Draft. They are long days at the TEST Parisi Football Academy, lifting and running twice a day. And with my Pro Day up at Boston College next week on March 12, I’m beginning to see that all this work and effort finally has a goal.

At Pro Day, you only get one shot at getting this right. You slip and make a mistake, and you don’t get a “re-do.” It is a lot like playing in a game – you can’t tell your coach, “Ummm, can we run that play again? I didn’t mean to do that.” Scouts want to see perfection, so you have to train for perfection.

That’s where Skip Fuller comes into play. He’s the Performance Director at TEST Sports Clubs and he ran the morning session on Tuesday. It was a pretty intense session — both mentally and physically- geared specifically on fine-tuning the running I will need to do next week at Pro Day.

At the end of the session, we did the L-Drill and really broke it down in a unique way.

For me, the L-Drill is important because I’ll be able to put up some really good numbers — I think maybe better than any of the other tight ends at the NFL Combine. For the L-Drill, I’d like to be under the 7-second mark and under a 4.1 for the shuttle. If I do that, I hope to turn some heads.

This drill and the shuttle showcase one of my strengths, as I think my best attribute is my hip agility and a good ability to change directions. I played forward in basketball in high school — I don’t want to brag, but I did score 1,000 points in high school at Somerville — and I think that goes hand-in-hand. I can change directions well, and as a tight end in the NFL I know scouts will want to see that.

So on Tuesday we ran the L-Drill from backwards to forwards, starting with how we finished it. Fuller, who ran the drill, wanted us to re-set it mentally.

“You kind of remember the first steps that you did when you finish a drill — normally you remember just the beginning,” Fuller explained to me afterwards. “So this was a different way to re-set, to help with the movements of the drill and really enhance that.”

Fuller knows what he is saying. He was a star at West Virginia and then signed with the Miami Dolphins after his college career. He’s trained a bunch of players now in the league as well.

I’m now inside 10 days before my Pro Day. I was laying on my bed this past Sunday, looking at my calendar and realizing I’d be back at Boston College in less than a week, getting ready for Pro Day.

I won’t lie — the nerves are there a little.

Before a day like Pro Day or game day, there are nerves. I like to embrace the nerves — I love that part of the game and being an athlete. If you don’t have that nervous feeling and that feeling of not being victorious, of not wanting to give it all, that’s when it isn’t special anymore. That’s why I started playing sports in the first place. Everyone is counting on you and you need to do your part to make the whole thing work as a team.

Next week I have to go out there and give it my all, give it my best. I hope my numbers will be able to stand up against the best. That’s why I’m working hard, trying to perfect everything before next week.

Everyone has different ways to handle the nerves. For me, I like to be a creature of habit, if you will.

It’s really about keeping life as normal as possible, trying not to change my routine and stay in that routine. Every day is the same day. I can rely on that routine so when I go up to Pro Day, I can follow the same routine as I do when I’m training.

Now it’s time for lunch. My stomach is growling. Routine, don’t you know.

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