Feb. 28, 2012
BY: ANDREW LENTZ
INDIANAPOLIS - When former Tennessee running back Tauren Poole spent July 21, 2011 shuffling around from room to room answering question after question at The Wynfrey Hotel in Birmingham, Ala., little did he know that seven months later, the experience would prove invaluable.
His 2011 SEC Media Days exposure just scratched the surface of the media attention that Poole received as the starting tailback at the University of Tennessee.
Poole frequently faced one of the largest media contingents nationally among major college football programs following practices and games - win or lose.
When the Toccoa, Ga., native faced interviews recently with teams at the NFL Combine, he was ready.
"It's not what you have to sell," Poole said of the interview process. "It's what they ask you. `What do you bring to the table? What can we get from you as a player? What can you bring to us as an organization?' Whatever they ask you, you have to be ready to answer and give the best answer you can.
"Doing all of those interviews in college prepared me for things like this. Having interviews and being well-rounded in them in particular helped me a lot. I'm glad I did it in college. It carried over to the interviews that I've done here."
Poole's 24 reps on the bench press at the Combine were the fourth-most among competing running backs. He also clocked a 4.54 in the 40-Yard Dash and a 4.19 in the 20-Yard Shuttle, which was tied for seventh among rushers.
"It went pretty well," Poole said. "It's definitely an experience to remember. There were a lot of good players. I had a lot of fun and competed well. It definitely was a blast and something that I'll never forget. I'm just glad I got to compete, got to run as I did and do good things."
All of the big moments Poole endured at UT prepared him for the biggest - so far.
"It's the biggest job interview of your life," Poole said of the NFL Combine. "It's something you really enjoy as a football player because this is what you've always been working for since you were young. Now is the time. You definitely have to be on top of your game and be focused. I love every bit of it. This process isn't over. It's still going on until Pro Day."
While Poole looks ahead, he can do so because of what's behind.
"I think Tennessee did a great job preparing me," Poole said. "Tennessee stands alone in many spots in preparing guys like me for the NFL and for the NFL process. It's one of the best universities in the country.
"If I wouldn't have done half of the interviews I did at Tennessee and spoken to the media, I wouldn't have had the interviews that I had (at the Combine). It definitely helped me. It's a great class-act university. The young guys need to take away every little thing that they can from UT because it carries over to the NFL."
POOLE'S NFL COMBINE RESULTS
40-Yard Dash: 4.54 sec
Bench Press: 24 reps
Vertical Jump: 34.0 inch
Broad Jump: 118.0 inch
3-Cone Drill: 7.36 sec
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.19 sec