Fordham Quarterback Preps for NFL Draft


Published February 4, 2010

Fordham quarterback and prospective NFL draft pick John Skelton, College of Business Administration (CBA) ’10, had his welcome-to-the-big-leagues moment shortly after arriving in Orlando, FL to participate in the Jan. 23 East-West Shrine Game, an annual college football all-star showcase.

After the first day of meetings, the players were lined up alphabetically in a conference room at the hotel that served as the game’s headquarters.

“Then we had to strip down to our compression shorts, and they brought us out in front of all of the NFL personnel there,” Skelton said. “They were taking our height and weight and measuring our arms, and I looked out and there in the front row was Bill Parcells.”

Skelton should get used to being inspeced by NFL brass. After breaking nearly every school passing record during his four years at Fordham, the 6’5” 258 pound El Paso, TX native has a legitimate shot at making an NFL roster. Skelton became just the third player in Patriot League history to participate in the Shrine Game, where he completed seven of 10 passes for 63 yards while sharing quarterbacking duties for the East with Mike Kafka of Northwestern and Daryll Clark of Penn State.

Less than 12 hours after the game, a 13-10 win for the East, Skelton was at the Orlando International Airport to catch a plane back to Phoenix, AZ where he has been training at the Fischer Sports Conditioning Center since the end of the fall semester. His objective: prepare for the NFL Combine, which will be held in Indianapolis from Feb. 24 to March 2. At the Combine, essentially an NFL job fair, Skelton will run drills in front of thousands of NFL representatives, all evaluating if he deserves a shot on a pro roster.

“It will be intimidating to show up and see all of the head coaches and general managers there,” Skelton said. “But in terms of the drills and actually performing, I feel confident.”

Fordham strength and conditioning coach Ted Perlak has no doubt that Skelton will be prepared for the Combine.

“He came in [to Fordham] at 215 [pounds] and got up to 255, and that’s a testament to his hard work,” Perlak said. “He’s a gifted and talented kid but he worked his butt off. He was awesome with us.

“He has a jumpstart on the other guys because he’s been doing the combine drills for two years. [Fordham head football] coach [Tom] Masella wanted to set up a mini combine for our team that we do in March and in August, so John’s familiar with the drills.”

Still, Skelton knows that some areas of his game need improvement, most importantly his time in the 40-yard dash. “The combine is more of a track meet, and here [at Fischer] I’ve been working on my running a lot. This is definitely the most grueling training I’ve done. We’re here six days a week, twice a day. We had hard weeks of practice at Fordham, but this is the hardest I’ve had to train.”

The biggest challenge at the combine may be mental, however.

“The combine is a meat market,” Perlak said. “They weigh you in, then make you sit around for three hours before calling all of the quarterbacks to run the shuttle drill. The point is to put you in a stress situation. Its crazy the amount of attention you get.”

Skelton already received a lesson in the shock that comes from breaking into the NFL at the Shrine Game. “We had to meet with representatives from the NFL Players Association before the game,” Skelton said. “They were warning us about how to deal with all of the things that happen when you go from being a college student with no money to basically being in the top tax bracket. It was a little surreal.”

Skelton will be the only Patriot League representative at the combine, throwing alongside the likes of Heisman Trophy winners Tim Tebow of Florida and Colt McCoy of Texas. “I hope I’ve established my name, and I’m looking forward to checking out the competition,” Skelton said.

“I’ve prepared the best I can. I’m not the fastest guy, but as long as I’m prepared and have a good showing I’ll be happy. I want to make sure everyone there gets to see what I can do.”

Perlak said Skelton’s biggest asset may not be the result of training, however. “I like his chances,” Perlak said. “On top of his hard work, you can’t teach 6’5”, 250 pounds. If he gets a shot with the right team and learns the system, he’ll surprise a lot of people.”

As for finding the right team, an NFL courtship is a tricky process. At the Shrine Game, Skelton met with representatives from the Dolphins, Steelers and Cardinals, among other teams, but nothing is certain heading into the NFL Draft on April 22.

“Sometimes it’s the team that shows the least amount of interest in you that ends up picking you in the end,” Skelton said.