Shrine Game diary: Frank Okam
Hey Longhorns fans,
I'm here at the East-West Shrine Game in Houston, where I'll be playing for the West team on Saturday night. We actually got in to town last Saturday and after we met a lot of the other guys from both rosters, we had to take a lot of tests for the NFL right away. They did a lot of psychological tests and wanted to get all of our measurements and those types of things. We also did a lot of tests like the Wonderlic test and then worked some with weights.
Sunday was the day we went to the children's hospital. Since it's the East-West Shrine Game, all of the proceeds go to the support the children at the Shriners Hospital. That was a lot of fun. It was similar to how we visit the kids before our home games at Texas, but these kids are probably a little less fortunate overall than many of the kids we see there. Some of these kids here have lost limbs or have spine problems or tumors or are autistic, so they have a lot of mental and physical disabilities they're trying to overcome. That was a great opportunity, and we did things like arts and crafts, karaoke, wheelchair basketball - we did everything with them. That was a good feeling to be able to hang out with them and give back. A lot of guys get nervous about their football abilities in front of all of these scouts, but that's nothing compared to these kids.
Starting Monday, we started getting ready for football. Our practices were filled with NFL scouts. Every team was represented, and there were probably about 100 decision makers watching every practice and everything you do. If you weren't ready mentally, it can be pretty intimidating because if you mess up, you're doing it in front of every team in the NFL, but that's part of the great thing about Texas - they help you prepare to deal with pressure like that.
There are more scouts here than ever before, and as many chances as you can get to be in front of them and show them what you can do as a player and who you are as a person, you want to take advantage of those. I've interviewed with probably 15 or 20 teams, and just to have a chance to be a familiar face to them the next time I see them is a great thing. If they can remember your name, hopefully they remember it on draft day. That's how I look at it. Any chance to be in front of them is a great opportunity, and it's a job interview 24/7.
Although I was the only Longhorn here for a while, I was really happy to see Scott Derry and Derek Lokey get added to the roster. Scott called me from Hawaii and told me he got added, then Derek called me the day after that and said he got added to it, and now he's my roommate, so it's just like old times preparing for this game. It's been fun, and having those guys has made it a lot easier.
I've been with Derek with the defensive line drills, and in my opinion, he's don't the best of everyone. He's been doing great in his one-on-one drills and has played very consistent. For a guy who hasn't done anything with football since the Holiday Bowl, he came in hitting on all cylinders. For me, I think I've had a solid week. I've really been focusing, so that if I make a mistake, I don't do it again.
As far as the other players here, the D-line is its own little group, it's own little fraternity. We have a couple of guys from the Big 12 in James McClinton from Kansas and big (Athyba) Rubin from Iowa State. Then you have Lionel Dotson from Arizona, but he's actually from Houston, and we have both the TCU ends in Tommy Blake and Chase Ortiz, and Chris Harrington from A&M. There's a lot going on there with Big 12 and Texas connections, so everyone's kind of familiar with everyone else. I've even been making pretty good friends with the OU people, even though they're not on the D-line, with Marcus Walker and Allen Patrick, and it's been a good deal.
The fact that this game is in Texas also helps out a whole lot. It's good to have family support and know you're not that far from Austin, so you're always going to see a Longhorn fan here. It's great to play in Texas and know you're in front of people who know you and you're program, and they're pulling for you.
I'd also like to point out that the organization of the game has been great. I've been talking to some of the guys that went to the Hula Bowl and they said that was probably one of the downsides to it. To have a game that's run this smoothly with everything going as planned, with no glitches, I think that's great for the players. We can just focus on playing football and everything else takes care of itself. To not have those extra worries is great.
The hospitality they've given us has been excellent. They have a top of the line training staff, and you can get a message every day if you need one. They're feeding us all of our meals, and it's been a great experience so far. Now we're just taking it down and getting ready for the game. We have our players' award banquet tonight, and Saturday is game day.
And as far as the game, even though the practices are the most important things for the scouts, to end the week on a high note is very important. Hopefully we can go out apply everything we've learned during the week into a game format. I think that shows that you can use what you've been taught and produce results on the field. That's how I see it, and it's another opportunity to show yourself in a game format and hopefully we can come out with a win.
After this, I'm heading back to Nashville where I'm training. I'll be there until the combine, and I'll probably be there after the combine until we get ready for Pro Day in March at Texas. I want to say thanks again to all the Longhorn fans that supported us this season and throughout my career. It was a great ride, and I'm already looking forward to being back in Austin in March.