Chasing a dream

Bryan Cole / Collegian File Photo
Top senior Bulldogs anxiously awaiting names to be called in draft on Saturday

Growing up, millions of kids imagine living the life of a professional football player. It’s a dream as American as football itself. And while two of the ’Dogs’ best players are incredibly close to realizing that pipe dream, the reality might be a little different than what they imagined.

“It’s kinda weird with 200 grown men staring at you through a magnifying glass,” said Tom Brandstater, Fresno State’s starting quarterback for the last three seasons.

“You learn to accept it,” Brandstater said.

The National Football League draft begins this Saturday on ESPN, with Brandstater and tight end Bear Pascoe hoping to be one of the players selected.

Sources have Brandstater going somewhere between the third and sixth rounds, while Pascoe is projected to go in the sixth or seventh rounds.

The NFL combine gained a reputation in recent years as a cold, unfriendly place for players. Players are transported to and from their hotel via black vans, are not allowed to use cell phones during the event, and are literally put on a stage to display their physique in what has been referred to as a “cattle call.”

“There’s a lot of meat up there in front of everybody. They check every detail to make sure they’re getting what they’re paying for. But it was a good experience, I went to extreme lengths to get my body looking good,” Pascoe said, remembering the experience at the combine.

Not only are prospects’ bodies on display, they have constant interviews with teams to show their mental competence. Pascoe said he had interviews with nearly every team in the league. He interviewed with three teams’ entire offensive staff.

Neither player said they were nervous about the workouts or interviews, with Brandstater saying, “It’s never really nerve racking. I just try to be myself, not put on an air for anybody else.”

Mock drafts and blogs are equally harsh to potential NFL draftees, seeing the men only as what they do on the field. Various outlets commented on Pascoe’s slow 40-yard dash speed and one called Brandstater “a statue in the pocket.”

This kind of scrutiny might be devastating to a regular person, but these guys are used to it. They’ve lived in the public eye since they became standouts during their high school years. Brandstater said simply, “I’m used to it by now.”

Of course, none of this will matter if it means the dream of becoming a professional football player becomes a reality.

“You grow up watching Joe Montana,” Brandstater said, “and to have a chance to fulfill that dream. That realization is coming true.”

Since both Pascoe and Brandstater are likely to be drafted on the second day of the draft, they both said they are staying at home to watch the event with close friends and family, while enjoying a barbecue.

It’s a day they have waited their whole life for. And if everything goes right, two of the Valley’s best athletes will see their childhood dreams come true on Sunday.

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