Path to the draft: Western’s Willie Beavers
INDIANAPOLIS — It’s 4:45 a.m., and Western Michigan University offensive lineman Willie Beavers is awake and getting ready to take his drug test.
That’s the life of an NFL prospect at the Combine. Only 300 are selected and for those that are given the opportunity, they have to be willing to overcome every obstacle placed in their way. For Beavers the last two months leading up to today have been a constant preparation of being able showcase his skill set while using what he learned in college to overcome those obstacles.
Willie has spent the last two months training at Goldin Athletic Training Association in Atlanta, Ga., where his agents Michael Perrett and Kevin McGuire of Element Sports Group are based. With 25 years collectively between them, Perrett and McGuire are seasoned vets in the agent business. They founded Element Sports in 2014 and represent NFL players such as Geno Atkins, Cameron Heyward and Denard Robinson. While in Atlanta, Beavers trains with Georgia offensive tackle John Theus.
Beavers’ first real test of NFL life came last month in Mobile, Ala., at the Senior Bowl. The experience could be described as definitely a positive but admittedly still a shock to the system for someone who is trying to show their ability and versatility both on the field and off the field.
“It was more hectic than this,” Beavers said Wednesday night in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza, in downtown Indianapolis. “In the lobby as soon as you come down, it is full of nothing but scouts and media. It was really hectic. You’d have a meeting with a team at 6:00 and then get pulled in another direction to come take a test for 30 minutes or an hour. I did get to meet with a lot of head coaches at the Senior Bowl. It was tremendous.”
Usually the football field is seen as a sanctuary to get away from off field distractions, due to safety of a routine. However the Senior Bowl is used as the testing ground for NFL prospects, giving them the chance to showcase all their different positions. In Beavers’ case he was shuttled around to just about every position on the offensive line, after spending the majority of his career at Western Michigan at just left tackle. Learning time is accelerated when placed on the field with other top prospects.
“I got some work at the facility I’m training at in Atlanta, but it’s different when you’re going against live ammo. The first time I played right guard at the Senior Bowl I went up against Austin Johnson, the defensive tackle from Penn State, who is projected to be a first round pick. I just have to get the hang of it. I’m up for the challenge.”
For Willie, he draws back on his time at Western Michigan when needing a little extra motivation. Keeping his oar in the water is more than just a catchphrase and is proving necessary when trying to battle all the new experiences he’s coming across in this process.
“The R.T.B. method. Everything about the program has helped me,” Beavers said. “Sometimes when I’d be getting tired, I’d tell myself let the other guy get tired. It’s a way of life and it’s really helped me through this process
Rob Beuerlein is the associate director media relations at Western Michigan University.