Sunday, February 26 2012 1:09 AM EST2012-02-26 06:09:14 GMT
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INDIANAPOLIS (WRCB) -- Undersized and relatively unknown, Tim Benford is getting a chance to prove he belongs on the elite level.
The former Red Bank star and Tennessee Tech All-American is one of 300 college prospects invited to display their talents and personalities at the prestigious NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"I really just want to showcase my skills against the bigger schools and big name players just to prove to people I can play on that level," Benford said during his media session on Friday afternoon. "I mean, I was meant to play on that level, but everything happens for a reason."
The reigning Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year and Tennessee Sports Writers Association Male Athlete of the Year was still very much under the radar when he arrived at the East-West Shrine Game workouts last month in St. Petersburg, Florida.
An impressive week of practice and two catches in the all-star game were enough to earn him an invite to Indy, where he's hoping a strong performance will push his name up draft charts and into the later rounds of the April draft.
For those who still don't recognize his name or know his background, he's been able to draw on the recent success story of New York Giants' receiver Victor Cruz. Cruz went undrafted out of UMass but still became one of the year's biggest playmakers for the Super Bowl champs.
"I really admire his game because it's somewhat like mine," Benford said. "He just came from nothing to something. He came out of nowhere and shocked the world and made a name for himself. That's something I'm trying to do."
While his college stats for receptions, yards and touchdowns are all impressive, Benford knows those aren't the numbers that get scouts drooling this time of year.
He admits he doesn't have the top-level size and jaw-dropping speed, so instead he focuses on the aspects of his game he can control. He takes pride in running crisp and consistent routes, having sure hands and the ability to separate himself from a defender.
"It's really no stress to me," Benford said when asked about not having impressive measurements. "I know I'm not 6-foot. They've got me at their numbers, so it's really not a stressful part because I can't control it.
"I just want to do the best I can do when I get out there."
Benford will get his chance to take the field on Sunday when the wide receivers are scheduled to go through drills. Until then, he'll go through the combine's endless battery of medical and psychological exams, as well as continuous interviews with potential NFL employers.
He knows he only needs to catch the eye of one team during the process to get a shot at the next level, and he doesn't care which team that is.
"Anybody that gives me a chance really," Benford said when asked about a hopeful destination. "Anybody that wants to give Tim Benford a chance, I'm willing to work hard for them and give it my best effort."