Photo illustration and photo by Brittany Schock / Asst. photo editor
Among the beaches, dining and nightlife in Mobile, Ala., there are plenty of distractions for former college football players participating in Saturday’s Senior Bowl.
Former Ohio State players Mike Adams, DeVier Posey, Michael Brewster and Daniel “Boom” Herron all received invites to the annual NFL prospect showcase, and Herron said his approach to the practices leading up to the game, as well as the game itself, is strictly business.
“I’ve talked to a few guys who have actually played in the (Senior Bowl) and they definitely say it’s all business out there,” Herron said. “It’s a time to go out there and show your talents, just go out there and work hard and it’s definitely a business trip.”
The last year could hardly be considered business as usual for the 5-foot-10, 205-pound running back.
Herron, along with former OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor, defensive end Solomon Thomas and fellow Senior Bowl North team invitees Adams and Posey, was suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling Buckeyes memorabilia in exchange for improper benefits in the form of tattoos. Herron was then suspended for an additional game after he was found to have been overcompensated by former team booster Robert DiGeronimo for work he did not complete during a summer 2011 job.
Despite the suspensions, Herron’s return to action for the Buckeyes’ Oct. 15 game against Illinois was business as usual.
Herron rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown in the game, eventually finishing 2011 with 675 yards and three touchdowns in seven games.
For his performance in the 2011 season, Herron received an honorable mention All-Big Ten and was named co-captain of the team after the season.
For his career, Herron ran for 2,869 yards — the 10th-best career rushing yardage mark in program history — and 33 touchdowns, the eighth-most for a Buckeye back.
Heading into a week’s worth of Senior Bowl practices against top defensive players from around the nation, Herron said he isn’t satisfied.
“I definitely am going to have a chip on my shoulder,” Herron said. “With missing six games this year, it was definitely hard on me and with me playing in this game, I feel like it can definitely help me. It’s a time for scouts to see me perform against a lot of great talent out there, so I think it’s definitely going to help me out a lot.”
Solidifying his status as a quality running back is the main goal this week, Herron said. He also wants to show his versatility.
“I want to show them how good of a running back that I am,” Herron said. “How I can catch the ball out of the backfield and do all the little things that they would want to see out of a running back.”
Whether or not Herron can offer an NFL team “all little things they would want to see” remains to be seen, but ESPN college football analyst Todd McShay said he likes the running back’s chances to get drafted.
“I like his running style. I think he’s decisive,” McShay said. “He’s able to make that cut and go and he’s pretty good laterally. He’s not going to be first three rounds … He’s got a chance because of how he runs to work his way in and hang around the league five, six, seven years.”
According to a report from a Senior Bowl North team’s Wednesday practice from Sports Illustrated draft expert Tony Pauline, Herron is “surprising” scouts in attendance.
Pauline said “Dan Herron of Ohio State showed surprising foot quickness today. After being stuffed on the inside for a few handoffs, Herron suddenly displayed the ability to bounce around the outside and avoid defenders and piles.”
Pauline did not immediately respond to The Lantern’s request for comment regarding Herron’s performance in practice.
After receiving several postseason awards for his performance during a suspension-shortened season, Herron is literally and figuratively “bouncing” back in practice as he tunes up for Saturday’s game.
In what could be considered a business-like approach to the game, Herron said that while he’s honored to be playing in the game, he views it as a “big task.”
“It’s such a … great time to enjoy part of your senior year, especially playing with three other guys from my actual team — it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Herron said. “I’m very proud to get out there and show my talent.”
Saturday’s Senior Bowl kicks off in Mobile at 4 p.m. at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The game will be televised nationally on the NFL Network.
Michael Periatt contributed to this story.
This story is the third story in a four-part series about the four former Ohio State football players who will compete in the 2012 Senior Bowl. Read tomorrow’s online edition of The Lantern for the final installment in the series.