MOBILE, Ala. — For every college player, the first question NFL scouts ask is almost always the same: "Where are you from?"
It’s the second question that varies.
For former LSU receiver Travin Dural, the second question is about the hamstring tendon that was ripped loose during a game at Ole Miss in November 2015.
“First question is where I’m from,” Dural said. “And then … ‘How is the hamstring?’ ”
The Breaux Bridge answered that question on the field during his senior season of 2016, starting eight games and catching 28 passes. He plans on answering the question even more authoritatively this week at the Senior Bowl.
That goal started Tuesday during the week’s first practice at sun-splashed Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The nation’s most prestigious college all-star game is 1:30 p.m. Saturday, but the week leading up to the North-versus-South duel is much more significant for the 120 players, likely all bound for the NFL, participating in the event.
The scouting unfolds during interviews with NFL representatives and coaches — those began Sunday night — and at practice, with NFL officials watching the players’ every move.
Does he work hard enough? Does he win his one-on-one battles? How quick are his feet, and how fast are his get-offs?
“I want to show the things that I don’t get a chance to show at LSU,” Dural said. “I’m just trying to take advantage of that.”
This week might be more important to Dural than to the other three LSU players participating in the event. Center Ethan Pocic appears assured, experts have said, of at least a second-round selection. Linebacker Duke Riley is surging up draft boards after a breakout senior season, and cornerback Tre’Davious White, a potential first-round pick, had more buzz on Day 1 of Senior Bowl week than most.
Dural didn’t only suffer that gruesome hamstring injury, but he also missed two games this past season because of a shoulder injury that he said is fully healed. As of now, he's ranked the No. 15 wideout in the draft class by WalterFootball.com, and he’s projected to go anywhere from the second to the fourth round.
“Every day I want to show I’m healthy, want to show that I’m not injury-prone,” Dural said following Tuesday's scouting weigh-in.
Dural checked in at 6-foot-1 and 206 pounds. Later in the day, he found himself pitted against an old friend during practice: He and White battled in a one-on-one drill, going against each other in man coverage — just like they did the past four years in practice at LSU.
“When I looked out there and saw that LSU helmet, saw him and saw Duke, it kind of felt like I was back at practice,” Dural said.
Said White: “It’s like old times — just like the backyard at LSU.”
Dural and White spent time after practice speaking to media members and coach Ed Orgeron, who made an impromptu appearance while in the area recruiting.
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Scouts gathered around the players, too, each hoping to grab a word with a guy who could land on their 53-man roster. All four LSU players have at least met briefly with the New Orleans Saints, they said. Maybe one of them can break the streak: The Saints last picked an LSU player in 2010, choosing nose tackle Al Woods in the fourth round. The Saints were the first of about “10 to 15” teams that Dural met with since arriving in Mobile on Sunday.
He was well prepared for the interviews, schooled during his training in the past month at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. That’s the same IMG Academy that former University High star Dylan Moses transferred to last year, the sparkling football factory near Tampa that recruits the best high school football prospects in each state.
IMG recruited Dural for NFL training.
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“It’s amazing,” Dural said. “They prepped me real good about some of the questions (the scouts) were going to ask, some of the ways I need to prepare myself mentally and physically, my appearances, things I do with my hands. Things like that.”
He was ready for that second question — you know, the one about his hamstring. He was ready for the first question, too.
“I try to explain to them where is Breaux Bridge because, nine times out of 10, people don’t really know where Breaux Bridge is,” Dural said. “I try to tell them it’s a little bit before Lafayette, a little after Baton Rouge. People say, ‘Oh yeah, I usually pass it up on my way to Baton Rouge.’ Or, ‘I see it going here or there.’ I try to explain it best as I could.”
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They ask a third question also.
“A lot of people ask me about the Popeyes incident,” Dural said. “That might be the worst one.”
A story surfaced last fall quoting Dural as saying he gained 30 pounds eating Popeyes fried chicken while recovering from his hamstring injury.
He's setting the record straight this week.
“It was a misunderstanding, a miscommunication," he said. "I didn’t really gain 30 pounds because of Popeyes. I just couldn’t run for about six months.”