By Wes Hodkiewicz and Mike Spofford
INDIANAPOLIS – Here’s a handful of highlights from the media sessions of the quarterbacks and receivers at the NFL Scouting Combine.
1. “All he needed was a shot”: Chase Litton knew Packers receiver Michael Clark had talent. Basketball court or football field. It didn’t matter. The kid could ball.
Clark, whose family moved to Tampa Bay when he was 8 years old, and Litton, of Winter Park, Fla., grew close after playing together on AAU basketball circuit in grade school.
After playing one year of high-school football, Clark opted to focus his attention solely on basketball, while Litton later committed to play quarterback at Marshall University.
Clark had played basketball for a season at St. Francis (Pa.), appearing in 12 games, before getting the itch to give football another try. Naturally, he reached out to Litton.
“He hit me up one summer and was like, ‘Chase, I want to be out here and I want to play football,’” recalled Litton. “He sent me some workout videos, but I said, ‘You don’t have to send me those. I’ll go talk to Doc.’”
Litton talked to Marshall coach Doc Holliday, who agreed to take a look at the 6-foot-6 receiver. A few days later, Clark flew out and joined the football team as a walk-on before earning a scholarship the next semester.
After sitting out one season due to NCAA transfer rules, Clark’s first three catches for the Thundering Herd were all touchdowns en route to leading Marshall with 632 receiving yards that season.
“It’s not fair. It’s not fair,” joked Litton, who is 6-5 himself. “Obviously in college, his first three catches in college were touchdowns. The reason being is because it’s not only his size, but also his work ethic. He was prepared for the moment and once he got that moment he knew he had to be ready for it and he was.”
Clark had only two combined years of high school and college football on his resume when he declared for the draft last year. He went undrafted, but signed with Green Bay as a free agent.
After starting the year on the practice squad, Clark signed to the Packers’ active roster in December and wound up with four catches for 41 yards in two regular-season games.
Litton still keeps in touch with both Clark and former Marshall and current Packers tight end Emanuel Byrd through text messages and FaceTime sessions. Now, he hopes to break into the NFL ranks like Clark did seemingly out of nowhere last season.
“All he needed was a shot,” Litton said. “Obviously he’s very skilled. He has the skill set and the size that you can’t coach. He’s a tremendous athlete, tremendous player and an even better person.”
The kicker and punter were separated by more than 25 hours and 1,500 miles, but Mondays were still the day Justin Vogel and Mike Badgley debriefed. 2. A pair of specialists stayed in touch:
Like clockwork, Justin Vogel, in his rookie season with the Packers, and Mike Badgley, then a senior at Miami (Fla.), talked every week to recap their weekends and catch up on life.
The two were the go-to specialists for the Hurricanes for two years. With Vogel holding, Badgley made the third-most field goals in program history (21) during their final year prior to Vogel signing with Green Bay last May.
“We’re really close. We still talk pretty much every day, especially through this whole process,” Badgley said. “He’s been great. He gives you the inside and out of how the workout goes, and what you’re going to be doing.”
While Vogel went on to reset the Packers’ record for net punting average (40.6), Badgley moved past Carlos Huerta to become Miami's all-time field goal leader with 77.
With Badgley attending this week’s NFL Scouting Combine, it probably should come as no surprise the two former teammates are again lighting up the phone lines.
“It just keeps you motivated,” Badgley said. “We were good buddies. To see him go and do well in the NFL, I hope I can do the same as him and see him on Sundays.”
3. The draft’s top receiver could become a familiar foe: Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, generally considered the top prospect at receiver in this draft, is a potential target for the Bears, who have the No. 8 overall pick and a glaring need at the position.
Ridley believes he could step in at Chicago and lead the way from the get-go with second-year QB Mitch Trubisky.
“I’ve watched some of their games. They’re on the rise,” Ridley said. “If they want to choose me, I’ll make plays right away. I’ll come in and be the guy.”
As for the Florida native taking his talents to a division like the NFC North, with some cold outdoor games in Chicago and Green Bay, he’s not concerned.
“When they pick guys, they don’t ask that question. It doesn’t matter with the weather,” he said. “You have to go out there and ball.”
In three seasons for the Crimson Tide, Ridley caught 224 passes for 2,781 yards and 19 TDs, but he by no means thinks he maxed out.
“I should have had more yards,” he said. “I’m glad we were winning and won a (national) championship, but I felt like I could have done a lot more.”
4. UCLA QB Josh Rosen is soaking up all the advice he can: Among the former teammates and confidantes Rosen listed as having consulted for combine advice was Green Bay defensive lineman Kenny Clark, a Bruin teammate three years ago.
“They said to find every nook and cranny you can to take a nap, because you will be tired,” Rosen said.
Considered one of the top four QBs in this draft, along with Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, Wyoming’s Josh Allen and USC’s Sam Darnold – all of whom could be selected before the Packers are on the clock with the No. 14 overall pick, pushing a potential top-10 player down to Green Bay – Rosen apparently developed arm strength at a rather young age.
“My parents said it was dangerous to come into my crib room because bottles were coming out of nowhere,” he joked. “I’ve always had some kind of arm, I guess.”
5. Prospects are fans, too: Dallas Goedert’s first name – and initial football allegiance – originated with his father’s love for the Cowboys.
However, the South Dakota State tight end and finalist for the Walter Payton Award for top Football Championship Subdivision player eventually switched sides in grade school.
“My real dad is a big Cowboys fan,” said Goedert, who finished his college career top five in Jackrabbits’ program history in receptions (198), receiving yards (2,988) and touchdown catches (21).
“He named me after them, so my name’s Dallas. And then, my mom got remarried to a guy who’s a big Packers fan. So when I was like 7 or 8, I changed to the Packers. I’ve been a big Packers fan ever since. I’m ready to change again to whoever drafts me.”
And what if the Packers want to draft you?
“If they want to take me at (No. 14) or whatever, I wouldn’t be opposed,” said Goedert with a smile.