Since his in late February, San Leandro native and former Fresno State football star Jamel Hamler is doing his best to wait patiently until the NFL Draft.
At the Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana, the 23-year-old Hamler was put through extensive physical, psychological, and technical evaluations to gauge his readiness for professional football.
Hamler was directed through a meticulously-planned track of appointments with various officials involved in the NFL, which started with medical evaluations. Doctors tested his blood, body fat, and evaluated previous injuries.
The aim was to gauge his overall health, and detect any possible health risks down the line. He also completed pschological and general intelligence examinations.
An important part of his visit was comprised of interviews with coaches, scouts, and other important figures from various teams. Near the end of Hamler's stay, NFL officials put him through a myriad of athletic skills tests, including a 40-yard dash, vertical jump, and maximum bench press test, just to name a few.
“The days were long,” Hamler said in a recent phone interview. The NFL hopeful currently lives in Berkeley with one of his coaches.
Hamler says he was satisfied with how he performed throughout his stay at the Combine, but felt his moment in the spotlight came during the evaluation of his skills as a wide receiver.
“I think I performed well overall,” he said. “I maybe didn’t test as well in one category as I did the others. But being able to put the cleats on and the gloves on and show them how you perform with the ball in the air...I performed well at that.
"I got to show the teams why I was there, that I came to play football.”
Hamler is uncertain of his chances of getting picked up by a major league team, but he doesn't have time to sit and reflect on his performance.
“I’m constantly working, constantly trying to get in the gym, trying to get back on the field and enhance my craft. There are always things to strive to get better at,” says Hamler. “I think you can never grasp all the information at once.”
Despite amassing over 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns in three starting seasons as a Fresno State Bulldog, Hamler hasn't forgotten his roots.
He still works with his former coaches and trainers at when he can, to help him improve his game. He feels the history and tradition that goes along with the program at San Leandro High was a major factor in his success.
“There’s been a great group of coaches that have circled through [the San Leandro program] that have helped maintain the tradition, and maintain our history,” he said.
“Being able to play a game and have Dennis Dixon who is a starting quarterback at Oregon on the sidelines, or being able to go into the weight room and talk to Jarrad Page, who started for UCLA, when he’s getting ready for the NFL Draft...I think that’s a big factor. There’s tradition there.”
The former Pirate also had some advice for the footballers currently making their way through the prep ranks: “Try to squeeze every drop from every play, every practice, every workout. You don’t get the opportunity if you short-change yourself.”
Hamler also commented on the necessary professionalism it takes to succeed at the next level: “If you can try to live your life as professional for your age group as possible […] you’ll find yourself in the same situation I’m in,” he said. “This process is out there for everybody.”
The NFL hopeful, who has looked up to stars like Randy Moss, Jerry Rice, and Tim Brown, may find he has a lot in common with his childhood idols come April 28th, draft day.
But amidst all of the excitement and uncertainty, Hamler is trying to stay grounded, he said. He’s planning on spending draft day with his family in San Leandro to help him stay relaxed.
“I’ll be at my parent’s house,"Hamler said. "I’ll probably go out after with a large group of people [but] until, hopefully, my name gets called, I want to keep it real low-key.
"Everybody sitting around and looking at you — that’ll give you an anxiety attack right there, man.”