There are questions about his size and injury history, but there's no question about Dee Ford's heart and talent.
The Auburn pass rusher is currently working out in the weeks leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft, and questions linger whether or not the Senior Bowl MVP will be a first day selection or not. After a championship season for the Tigers where he was first-team All SEC and had 10.5 sacks (and 14.5 tackles for loss), it might not seem fair to doubt Ford's ability. However a back injury kept him from working out at the NFL Combine and his size makes him a tweener.
But those are questions for everyone else. When it comes to Ford's own perspective, he's taking things at a day at a time. His experience has taught him to focus on the present, on how he can get better at each level of the game. It's how he's learned to make music on the field. And it just so happens that he's doing the same off of it.
There's a lot of waiting this year before the Draft. How are you spending your time.
Right now it's just about working out and then I do a little music on the side.
Yeah right now, I'm just making music in my room. I just make a lot of songs -- Jazz, R&B, Gospel, whatever.
How long have you been doing that?
I've been musically inclined all my life. I've made music since I was like 8.
Did you grow up in a musical household?
Yeah my mom and dad were actually traveling with a group before we were even born. They've always made music. My dad was the man in high school with sports, too. So it's always been about sports and music.
You obviously have professional football dreams, but do you hold the same for music as well?
Right now, it's just a hobby. We'll look into it when it's time. But right now, I'm focused on football.
Photo credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Have you had any time to process on the fact that you've played college ball for the last time?
I haven't quite yet. Life has been so fast, you know? After the national championship, the way the game unfolded, I thought about that more than actually thinking about it being my last shot. Then the Senior Bowl came right after that, so I haven't had much time to think about it.
Have you talked to former teammates going in for spring practice?
Yeah, I do. But it still hasn't hit yet. I'm looking forward to where I'm going, so it's hard to miss it right now. I'm too excited about being in the NFL.
How far back does that dream of being in the NFL go?
I think when you're young, you dream about it. But you're also in the present and so nonchalant about life that you just take it day by day. When I was in high school, I really didn't even think about it. I was just thinking about college. Then when I got to college, I thought about the NFL. And it's always worked that way from level to level.
Do you remember the first time that you thought an NFL career was possible for you?
I think I thought about it in 2011. My freshman and sophomore years, I wasn't thinking about the NFL. I was just trying to be good in college. Then when I actually started being good in college, and some of my favorite players were going to the NFL, I started to envision myself in the NFL. But it always felt so far away that I didn't think about it. But it probably started in 2011.
Take me to your very first start. You had two sacks that game.
I actually remember one of my guys went down. He was an older guy. We were playing a team that wasn't that good. It was one of those weeks, so I was able to start that game. It was a little weird. At the time, I played a little timid. That's what you do when you're young is play timid, so I had to get a little loose. But I just remember getting relaxed -- the more I was out there, the more relaxed I became.
When you're given the Senior Bowl MVP, does it feel like it legitimates this whole process for you? What's the feeling at that point?
When they honored me, of course it was a blessing. But I didn't think I was lucky. It was something that I'd always worked for. I wanted to prove I was the best and it made me hungry for more of that. Any little bit of success that I get from the Senior Bowl or Pro Day or workouts, any type of success I get makes me more motivated.
How has your offseason schedule gone? Any visits?
I haven't been on any yet. I've been lucky to meet with so many teams at the Combine, Pro Day and Senior Bowl, and I've actually already met with some teams twice. I probably won't have as many visits because I think they know what they see. They know what they're gonna get. If you're taking a lot of visits, there's something to be iffy about or they just haven't had a chance to get their hands on you. And I've talked to just about every team. I have the Texans coming up. I'm going to visit them. And also Atlanta.
Have you heard from some teams more than others? Or do you have a good feel for who is most interested?
I can't really say I have a feel for it, because you can't really lock in a few visits and know what they're thinking. I can't focus on that, because honestly you never know. I'll probably get picked up by a team who never talked to me. So I never try to get emotionally caught up into one franchise since I don't know where I'm going.
What's one thing you wish people knew about you that goes beyond the field?
One thing that I wish people would know is that I'm just a great person, honestly. I think it's important for people to know who I am away from football. It's easy to know the guy in the helmet, but the guy outside of the helmet is a very loving, caring guy. Very funny. Very fun. Just a lively person.