INDIANAPOLIS -- At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Colt Brennan understands he has a lot to prove at the NFL Scouting Combine. The Hawaii quarterback says all the criticism he's heard about his game is nothing new.
"My whole life it seems like everyone said I wasn't going to be able to do it," said Brennan, sitting comfortably at a table surrounded by media at the Indiana Convention Center on Friday. "When I went to Mater Dei High School in Irvine, Calif., they said I'd be too small. ... I tried to get into a college, couldn't find one. I went to a prep school, walked on at Colorado, bounced back to a junior college, walked on at Hawaii -- never could get a break.
"Everyone kept saying, 'too small, not good enough,' and I had a good career at Hawaii. So you hear the criticism now, it almost puts me at ease, like I'm going to have great success in the next league. So I'm just excited to get to a team and prove that I can do it."
But Brennan has more to prove than just arm strength, especially to the NFL personnel men he will be interviewing with at the combine.
In 2004, as a freshman at Colordao, a female student accused Brennan of sexual misconduct after he entered her dorm room uninvited. In addition to sexual assault, Brennan was charged with trespassing and burglary. Colorado dismissed Brennan from the team.
A jury found Brennan guilty of second-degree burglary and first-degree trespassing. Brennan, who admits he was intoxicated on the night in question and doesn't remember many details, was sentenced to seven days in jail and four years of probation.
But he says the incident has made him stronger, even if he doesn't agree with the outcome of the trial.
"I'm the one who's at fault for putting myself in that situation, but there were a lot of things that transpired after I got into trouble that just weren't right," said Brennan, who blames false and misleading media reports for some of the troubles that followed him after his conviction. "It wasn't fair. I had to go through a lot of tough times.
"It made me a lot tougher internally. It made me realize that life is not fair. You've got to make life what it is. I was able to go on and have some success and experience some great things because of the way I changed. I think it's really helped me prepare for the lifestyle I'm going into in the NFL."
Brennan claims that for every charge he was found guilty of, there exists evidence, such as testimony and polygraph tests, to prove otherwise. Nevertheless, Brennan has accepted some responsibility for the situation.
"It's not like what I did that night was innocent," said Brennan. "I was drunk, and I put myself in a bad situation. I've learned from that, I take full responsibility for that."
Chicks dig the trenches
Several players have taken winding paths to the NFL, but perhaps none more so than Utah State offensive tackle Shawn Murphy.
The son of former major league slugger Dale Murphy, the 25-year-old lineman played quarterback his freshman year of high school and grew up dreaming of playing defensive end.
Unlike his father, though, Shawn was never able to master the skill of hitting a baseball.
"I was decent, I didn't live up to people's expectations," said Murphy. "I hit a home run here and there; I struck out a lot."
Despite his baseball lineage, Murphy's first love was always football. He started out on the defensive line at Utah State before leaving on a two-year mission to Brazil.
While in Brazil he gained a new appreciation for life after being shot at on the wild streets of the South American country.
"I got robbed a few times. I got caught in some gunfights between police and drug lords, things like that," Murphy said with a laugh. "It was an eye-opening experience. I was in the middle, I was hiding behind couches. Even being 6-foot-4 and I weighed probably about 260 at the time -- it's still a violent place for anybody. They'll pull out their guns; it's a different world."
Upon his return to the comparative calm of Utah State football, he was switched to the offensive line. He flashed his promise at the college level and is ready to show scouts what he has to offer after playing in relative obscurity at Utah State.
"I do come from a smaller school. ... I'm a relatively new offensive lineman, I've only been playing it two years," Murphy said. "I feel I do have a lot to prove as a player."
If he can master the combine drills, interviews and exams as well as he commands a press conference, Murphy figures to have a bright future.
The media room in the Indiana Convention Center and adjacent to the RCA Dome has been a scene of awkward moments over the last two days.
On Friday, on a podium at one end of the room was Florida wideout Andre Caldwell, the brother of former Patriot Reche Caldwell and good friend of New England receiver Chad Jackson. On the opposite end, separated by a distance of no more than three first downs, was New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who was being asked about his team's upset victory over the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
A reporter asked Caldwell if he had watched the big game. "No," was his one-word reply, and if Coughlin hadn't been concentrating on his own words, he would have heard Caldwell's. So, was Caldwell surprised by Giants winning? "No, not really," he said respectfully. "They have a good team."
Talks like a pro
Clearly not at a loss for confidence, California wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins came into the media room beaming and left having made a few bold statements.
Asked whom he compares to, Hawkins boasted, "I pretty much do it all. I'd say I'm kind of like a Terrell Owens/Anquan Boldin/Chad Johnson/Steve Smith, I can pretty much do it all."
When asked to rate himself, Hawkins shot back: "I'm going to say a 10. A 1-out-of-10 (scale)? A 10!"
There are 334 players participating at the combine. By contrast, there were 430 media credentials issued for the event by the NFL, up from 350 in 2007.
Jason Feller and Andy Fenelon contributed to this report.