It's safe to say I had a memorable first day covering the 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl. The first task on the itinerary was Media Night, which is the meet and greet for the media and the players held at the pavilion of the USS Alabama.
The site was definitely far from the typical press room where media sessions are conducted. The pavilion is an old hangar featuring planes used by our military. This definitely takes the cake as far as coolest venues to ever to host a press conference.
I immediately walked into the food line and the guy in front of me asks the server "hey, where's the shrimp?" She replied "its on the way" as I curiously walked by trays of covered food.
Moments later as the media members are all eating, the North team walks in (OL first) and the shrimp magically appear ... then disappear.
After both teams got done with their meals, the media members engaged in a free for all to get the players they wanted to interview.
On the North roster, the players who were most in demand were Washington QB Jake Locker, Boston College LB Mark Herzlich, and Oregon LB Casey Matthews.
For the South, both Alabama and Auburn were represented by three players each and their contingents were treated like rock stars, highlighted by Crimson Tide QB Greg McElroy and Tigers Safety Zac Etheridge.
I was lucky enough to grab a few players like McElroy, Etheridge, Herzlich, Auburn LB Josh Bynes, and North Squad and Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis.
After the media function, I went over to the Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel, the headquarters for the Senior Bowl where all of the NFL personnel and the players are staying.
What I observed for almost 2 hours was controlled chaos: players meeting with reps from all 32 NFL teams, who conducted on the spot interviews, literally everywhere imaginable on the first two floors of the hotel.
For the players, it served the first real glimpse into what they will have to go through until the draft process concludes in late April.
Tomorrow both teams will go through 90 minute practices at Ladd Peebles Stadium, with the North starting at 9:30 am and the South beginning at 1:45 PM.
Look out for a notebook and more interviews tomorrow!