It was a hot day in August when I met with Jose Jefferson and Craig Redd – co-founders of the College Gridiron Showcase – in Addison, Texas for what was to become the final location for their annual event in January. A 6-day event that invites over 300 college seniors to train, prepare and showcase themselves for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Approaching their 4th year, the CGS knew they must find a field that matches their need, growth and image. The previous event, held in Bedford, could not sustain the need for players, coaches, staff and media to all be in one location for the entire week. After having to book out 3 separate hotels and a convention center it was ever apparent that a change must be made.
INT. CROWN PLAZA, ADDISON, TX – DAY
I asked Jose if there was one word that came to mind when scouting a new location.
“Flexibility – the city, the venue, and the hotel needs to be flexible. Size of venue and hotel are great but flexibility is a huge factor. We also want a city that wants us.”
Nestled in the heart of Addison, two miles away from Addison Municipal Airport and minutes from DFW International Airport proved to be a perfect landing spot for players and staff alike. The Plaza also lies adjacent the Greenhill School and Brinkmann Field, the final deciding factor for the College Gridiron Showcase 2018.
EXT. BRINKMANN FIELD, GREENHILL – DAY
At Greenhill I sat down with Jose to further understand the events history and forward direction. Here is what took place.
JS. What about the City of Addison and Greenhill drew you to this location?
JJ. Honestly, it was their hotel. The city was also committed to having CGS there
JS. What are the most important factors that are involved when hosting an event of this size – regarding its location?
JJ. Flexibility – the city, the venue, and the hotel all need to be flexible. Size of venue and hotel are great, but flexibility is a huge factor. We also need a city that wants us.
JS. How many people and staff are involved in the operation of the CGS each year.
JJ. Between coaches, event staff, and the Board of Advisors about 30 people.
JS. From the beginning to year 4 what do the numbers look like, comparing the first year to the current year completed. (Players, Staff, Location, length of event).
JJ. The first year was just two 50 men teams which is 100 players. Over the course of the next 3 years, we started doing two groups of 90, a Specialist group of 20, and then a free agent camp of 100.
JS. What are the biggest obstacles you faced in 2017 planning the event?
JJ. Finances. It cost a lot of money to operate an event like ours. It cost money to promote the event and then there are those unexpected things that pop up that cost money.
JS. This year your group produced over 100 players with NFL opportunities, that is amazing. How different was the result from last year to the current year?
JJ. Honestly, about the same. We have built a following of specializing in the lower rounds and free agency.
JS. Will you be using the current facility in Addison to host next year’s event as well?
JJ. No, we will not be using Greenhill School. We will look at the hotel situation as well. We will need to be in a city that wants us. We will need to be a part of the city.
JS. Is there any other training/development group currently that is producing the kind of results the CGS is?
JJ. The Senior Bowl, the Shrine, and the NFLPA do very similar things that we do. However, we bring a different product to our event.
JS. What is the primary focus/vision/mission of the CGS, speaking directly about what you do for players.
JJ. As for me, I try to be the person that I didn’t have in my life at that time. I want to be able to give opportunities to players who may otherwise not have them.
JS. Realistically what kind of growth would you like to see for the CGS in 2019; Players, Venue, Size, Coaches, NFL Involvement?
JJ. It would be great to have more players! There is a right way to do it without watering down the event. Venue is not as big of a deal. Since we do not have a game it isn’t necessary to have a huge stadium. I like our coaches! I think the NFL needs to recognize the work we put in for the kids and for their teams. It would be nice to have funding and assistance with the event from the NFL.
INT. NFL DRAFT WEEKEND, ARLINGTON, TX – DAY
Come the weekend of April 26th the hype was ever present in and around the Arlington, Texas, the hosting city for the NFL Draft 2018. While most fans centered their attention on the number 1 draft picks in the spotlight, an entire pool of players that will make up the heart of every team in the NFL sat on pins and needles to hear the results of years of hard work coming down to one moment. For the CGS, another draft, another successful year. Business as usual…