SALT LAKE CITY — Former Southern Utah center Gavin Farr never imagined he’d play football after high school, so it’s understandable why he’s surprised to see his name mentioned as a potential NFL prospect.
Farr was just 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds coming out of Northridge High School in 2009, believing he had a better shot playing baseball in college than football. In fact, he said he committed to SUU immediately after T-bird head coach Ed Lamb offered him a partial scholarship.
Now at 302 pounds, the ex-Thunderbird has been the talk of the NFL draft blogosphere the past couple of weeks. The lineman has been able to bench press 475 pounds and squat 500 pounds, making him one of the stronger center prospects.
Farr, who started on SUU’s offensive line all four years of his eligibility, was featured on NFL Draft Bible last week, among other NFL draft-related blogging sites.
According to one unnamed source, the center has already received interest from several NFL teams.
“It’s been really exciting,” Farr said. “Just to go through this whole process with my family and hearing all these things from other people trying to steer me in the right direction. It’s been fun.”
He will be able to show NFL scouts his potential at an NFL regional combine in Los Angeles next month.
He said he’s hoping the regional combine will help him stand out from the competition.
“I really have to have great scores at my pro day at the regional combine for me to stand out as a small-school guy,” Farr said. “I need to be as strong and fast as possible at the weight they need me.”
Farr spent three seasons at center and another as a guard while at SUU. After redshirting in 2009, Farr gained roughly 40 pounds to get into a weight suitable for the offensive line. The South Ogden native then went on to have a productive college career at SUU.
In 2010, Farr was named second team All-Great West at center, as well as the media’s pick as Great West offensive lineman of the year. He went on to end up on the first team All-Great West in 2011 and first team All-Big Sky in 2012. He ended up 2013 as a third team All-Big Sky member.
“It’s awesome to be recognized as an individual,” he said. “Obviously the biggest thing for me is the team awards and the team being successful, but to be recognized as an individual is always great. It’s a good reflection on myself, but also my family and everyone who has supported me and really help me get to where I am.”
In that time, SUU went from bottom-feeder of college football in Utah to becoming one of the better programs in FCS football. The T-birds finished the 2013 season ranked No. 21 in the Sports Network Poll and No. 24 in FCS Coaches Poll — after competing in the FCS playoffs for the first time in school history.
With the success, SUU’s top players have begun to reach the professional ranks.
Brad Sorensen became the Thunderbird’s first NFL draft pick in 2013, while wide receivers Nick Miller and Tysson Poots, cornerback Dion Turner and defensive lineman Cody Larsen have been among the recent wave of T-birds to reach football’s “next level.”
“They’ve been a great asset to have for me to go in the right direction with training and an agent,” he said. “To have guys like that in (NFL teams) to show them how great players can be from SUU really paves the way for future guys to make it. I’m very thankful for them.”
Farr has also spent the last month in Salt Lake City training with former Utah tight end John Madsen and offensive lineman Jesse Boone — both who have been in Farr’s shoes before.
Madsen signed with the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent and played with the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions. Boone also went through the undrafted free agent route before playing professionally for three years.
Farr said their tutorship, from an on-the-field and off-the-field aspect, has been a great tool for him as he trains for a chance at the NFL.
“It’s crazy what they tell me,” Farr said. “You think you know a lot, and I think I knew a lot, but I really don’t. They pretty much break it down to every single thing the scouts from NFL teams look for just the insight of both John and Jesse’s insight is just very valuable to me and the guys training with them.”
Regardless of how the pre-NFL draft workouts fare, Farr said he feels like it’s a dream come true to even be thought of as a prospect.
“It’s an honor to just be recognized because there’s a lot of work and time that goes into this,” he said. “As a kid, it always was just a dream and now for it to be more realistic and more obtainable than ever, it’s crazy to be that close. I still have a long way to go and there’s a lot of uncertainty, but just to even have this opportunity is great and to have teams scouting me and watching me is an honor and it’s just a great experience. I’m very blessed to have this opportunity.”
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