The 2017 NFL Draft is set for Thursday, April 27th through Saturday, April 29th. As the stars of the college game get ready to find out where they will begin their NFL journey, CBS Local Sports’ “My Life As” series will give them an opportunity to talk about how they got to this point and what they expect from the future in their own words.
Now, we hear from Ohio University defensive end Tarell Basham, who has been a terror for MAC opponents over the last four years racking up 27 sacks and 38.5 tackles for loss. He was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and now gets ready for an NFL journey.
When I was eight, I wrote my mom a letter telling her that I was going to the NFL. I made the decision at that young age and to this day, my mom still has that letter.
I wanted to be a running back at first, because my favorite player at the time was Ricky Williams and my favorite team was the Miami Dolphins. I was never able to realize that desire to be a running back since I was a bigger kid, so the coaches decided it was better for me to play in the trenches on the offensive and defensive line.
Due to a low GPA coming out of high school, I wasn’t able to go and play in college right away and I attended the Hargrave Military Academy. I wasn’t recruited very highly out of high school anyway, so going to Hargrave was big for me because a lot of college coaches would come out to watch us play. The academy has a reputation for turning out D I prospects both when I was there and in the years before me.
The transition was a little bit tough having to go to a military academy and being an inner-city kid. It gave me structure and taught me punctuality and, I enjoyed the time I had there with the guys I was there with.
Even coming out of Hargrave, I wasn’t highly recruited. But, that only made me work harder to be where I am today — in position to be drafted into the NFL.
Part of getting to where I am today is of course my decision to play at Ohio University. I really enjoyed the family atmosphere that surrounded the football team and that led to my best memories from the last four years, which was just being out on the field with the guys. We played in a bowl game in three out of my four years on campus and those experiences are something that I’ll never forget.
This past year, we had the opportunity to play in the MAC championship game against Western Michigan at Ford Field in Detroit. That was an awesome experience simply because I had never been in an NFL stadium or been to a game before.
To get ready for the NFL Combine, I trained out at EXOS in San Diego and they really know what they’re doing out there. They improve guys’ numbers weekly. We also had a fun group of guys out there, including Nico Siragusa from San Diego State, and it made it really easy to come to work every day.
As for the Combine itself, it was basically one long interview. From the moment you got off the plane until the moment you got back on, it just felt like you were constantly interviewing for teams. The thing that stuck out most was actually the medical process before any of the drills took place. It was definitely much longer and more thorough than I expected, really a full two-day process. But, once you got to the drills, it was a lot of fun mainly because as a kid, you always dream about being in those drills when you watch them on television and now, to get the chance to participate, it was kind of surreal.
The biggest things that I’ve been working on in preparation for the draft and playing in the NFL are my flexibility and strength. As a pass rusher it’s important to be able to get low to make it hard for offensive lineman to get their hands on you, so I’ve really been working on that as I get ready for the next step.
When I look at my game, I like to compare myself to Oakland Raiders defensive end/linebacker Khalil Mack. We’re about the same size with a similar get-off to be able to cover a lot of ground on every play with a knack for getting sacks.
Aside from my abilities on the field, the thing I want fans to know is I will bring a whole lot of energy to any team that drafts me: Both on the sidelines and on the field.