South Carolina linebacker DeVonte Holloman has set his sights on a professional football career. This is the second in a series of ongoing updates from Holloman on his journey to the NFL and the April draft.
Holloman is one of seven former Gamecocks who will take part in the NFL Combine starting this weekend in Indianapolis.
He's doing the bulk of his training in Dallas, Texas, at the Athletes' Performance training center there. Fellow Gamecocks Marcus Lattimore and D.J. Swearinger are training at Athletes' Performance locations in other parts of the country.
Holloman will return to Columbia on March 27 for South Carolina’s pro timing day. This year’s NFL Draft is April 25-27.
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Holloman (6-2, 245) played strong safety and spur at USC. He had 207 career tackles, 15 for loss, seven interceptions and three forced fumbles. He graduated from South Pointe High School in Rock Hill.
What did you gain from playing in the East-West Shrine game last month?
It was good. You get to play with a lot of different guys. Being on the West team, I played with a lot of guys I didn't know and got to meet a lot of people. It was a different experience.
You said before that the week of the game was like a big job interview. Was that the case the entire time there?
Of course, that's how you have to treat everything right now that involves NFL Scouts and NFL VPs.
Were you able to talk with some NFL teams that week?
A couple. It was just general questions. They were trying to get to know me and know who I am as a person.
Why train in Dallas? Why not train closer to home?
Part of me wanted to get away where I didn't know anybody so I could focus. Another reason is API is one of the top places to train. There were four of them: one in Florida, one in California, one in Dallas, one in Arizona. This one had smaller numbers. There is a group of 10 or so of us. I get a lot more individual attention than I would have going anywhere else.
I know you train physically, but do you train for media interviews or things like that?
We do both. The place that I'm training at, they also do mental training as well. We do it all, physical, mental, interviews, and all of that.
Do they prepare you for the questions you might be asked at the Combine?
We do that in the media training. They grill us with the different questions that people have had over the years. There are a lot of questions.
How did you receive word that you were invited to the NFL Combine?
Through the e-mail process. They send you an e-mail telling you that you made it.
Were checking e-mail daily for that announcement?
Yeah, it was very stressful. You don't want to be left out. It's real stressful. You're constantly checking and constantly waiting and looking. Once I got it, a big weight was off my shoulders.
What's that like? Did you call your family?
The first thing I did was call my father. He's always been there for me. I called him because he was probably stressing out more than I did. I called my mom, too. She's more of the type to not really stress over much. She just prays a lot and says God will take care of everything. It was very stress relieving for my family to know that I was invited. Shortly after it was right back to work.
I didn't see you say anything about your Combine invite on Twitter.
I'm not the type to brag. It was a blessing and I'm happy for it, but I'm not the type to put everything out there on Twitter. I'm trying not to take anything for granted.
What's a typical day like for you - working out and eating? How many workouts?
I wake up in the morning and go eat breakfast, then do physical therapy on anything that I need to get worked on. Then I have my first workout at about 10. Every other week we do position drills after our first workout. After the first workout we do position drills with coaches they hire to take us through drills. We get a little break and get lunch. After that we wait around until our next workout. We start about 3. It's a full day. We do massages one day a week.
Are you trying to be a certain weight for the combine?
I'm pretty happy with where I am weight-wise, about 245 right now. If I gain, that can only help me out more as opposed to hurting me in any way.
In addition to your 40 time, what combine-specific activities do you do during training now?
Right now I'm doing everything. It's never been in my mind not to be doing everything they have me to do at the Combine. You've got the shuttle, the vertical and broad jump, the 60-yard shuttle. After that you do position drills.
I imagine these are things that weren't a regular part of your routine at South Carolina.
Not during practice, but our strength coaches at South Carolina did a good job of training us and getting us ready for things like this. We tested on it in the spring, so I already had a feel for things I would be doing in this process.
Have you looked to Stephon Gilmore or others for advice for the combine?
Yeah, me and Stephon have talked more in these past couple weeks than we have, with him being in season and me being in season. He told me to work hard and explained the whole process and how he felt about the Combine and what he wishes he would have done different.
Is he a good example of someone who can raise his stock in Indianapolis?
Yeah, he went to the Combine and performed well. That helped him out a lot when it was time to get drafted. He sent me a link to his Combine videos. he's a good example of how to go make a name for yourself.
What's next? When do you leave for Indianapolis and how long are you there?
I leave on Friday and come back Monday. I'm still in Dallas training until then. The workouts are kind of tapering off to let my body recover. Hopefully I'll be ready to go 100 percent and full speed at the Combine.