Former James Madison defensive end Arthur Moats is approaching this weekend's NFL Scouting Combine with an open mind.
"I'm from nothing. So regardless of how I perform, I'm only going to do better," Moats, who last season won the Buck Buchanan award as the top FCS defensive player in the country, said Tuesday.
"If I do great and they draft me early, then hey, I'm making positive steps. If I do bad and don't get drafted, then I wasn't predicted to anyway," Moats explained. "So either way, it's no pressure on me, I feel. I feel like all I can do is get better."
According to the official combine Website, participants are chosen by a selection committee comprised of scouts and NFL team executives, with a goal "to invite every player that will be drafted in the ensuing NFL Draft."
Moats and offensive lineman Dorian Brooks will both participate in this year's combine in Indianapolis. They're the first JMU players invited since running back Curtis Keaton in 2000.
Keaton was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth round of that year's NFL Draft. No player from JMU has been drafted since.
"This is a blessing, man," Brooks said Tuesday. "It's a great opportunity. I'm just ready to go, ready to get started."
"It's a huge honor," said Moats. "I feel it solidifies me as a player, as one of the top players in the nation."
Combine participants are broken into groups based on position. They go through three days of measurements, medical and psychological tests, and interviews. The fourth and final day is for workouts in front of scouts, coaches, and other executives from all 32 NFL teams.
Brooks and his fellow offensive linemen are scheduled to arrive in Indianapolis Wednesday, and work out Saturday. Moats and the other defensive linemen will arrive on Friday, and finish with workouts Monday.
"I'm anxious to get going. For the past two weeks I've been wishing the combine was today, or in a few days," said Brooks. "But now that it's coming up, I'm ready to just go. I'm anxious."
Both players also say they're eager to compete with prospects from larger college programs.
"Guys that go to a bigger school," said Brooks, "but they put on pads just like I do. So I'm just ready to go, and show that I can dominate at that level too."
"A smaller school guy can still be one of the top athletes there, regardless of what school he's from," said Moats. I feel I'm a lot better than the guys they have rated above me, and I'll prove it when I get out there."