INDIANAPOLIS — Barkevious Mingo is ready for questions he will face this weekend in Indianapolis.
Seemingly every NFL team at the annual scouting combine will ask about his relationship with former college teammate Tyrann Mathieu and whether he ever hung out with the troubled cornerback.
The answers could make as much difference in Mingo living up to his projection as a first-round draft pick as his time in the 40-yard dash. So the LSU star has left nothing to chance, carving out time to prepare for the 15-minute interviews.
“It’s one thing that all the guys that came out from LSU are going to face,” Mingo said during a telephone interview. “We know what kind of guy he was and we’re always going to be there for him.”
Interview training has become an essential component for draft hopefuls. Most, if not all, of the 333 players expected to arrive in Indy for the combine have been instructed in how to answer coaches and general managers properly.
This year, the questions run the gamut.
Running back Marcus Lattimore is trying to prove he can return from a gruesome knee injury. Mathieu, a cornerback, and Da’Rick Rogers, a receiver, both were booted off the teams they intended to play for last fall after failing drug tests. Linebacker Alec Ogletree will have to answer for a series of problems that included a suspension for violating team rules early last season, and linebacker Manti Te’o will likely contend with the girlfriend hoax all over again. And those are just the big-name guys.
Lee Gordon, a former television anchor, runs a training program for Athletes Performance, whose client list includes Mingo and Lattimore. His advice: Be appealing, believable and accentuate the positive.
“We tell them up front that coaching you on this is similar to tackling techniques and the things you do on the field, but you have to be yourself,” Gordon said. “You can’t be fake or people will see right through it. What we do is give them a chance to see the media and the (team) interviews as a business opportunity.”
Obviously, the advice deviates greatly from player to player.
For instance, Gordon suggested Lattimore explain to teams that he will be ready on opening day, if that’s what he truly believes, and to provide supporting medical evidence to prove it.
Some don’t need as much training as others, though everyone seems to benefit.