Baylor's LaQuan McGowan was listed as a 6'7, 390-pound lineman when he shocked the world and Michigan State's defense by springing for an 18-yard touchdown in the Cotton Bowl two seasons ago.
This was at the end of McGowan's redshirt junior season in Waco. But at the following year's spring practice, it caught McGowan by surprise when a coach had news to give him.
"I didn't know that it was gonna happen," McGowan said. "The first day of spring practice last year, they were kind of like, 'Oh, hey, you're with the tight ends now, so good luck.'"
McGowan didn't say anything. "Is this really happening right now?" he thought.
McGowan, on his way up to 410 pounds, transitioned from guard to the largest skill player in major football
He had two more catches in his senior season, both for touchdowns. His cameos earned him an All-Big 12 honorable mention and a bona fide Piesman Trophy candidacy.
Nowadays, McGowan is steeped in preparation for this month's NFL Draft. There's a lot of uncertainty in his world. He thinks he can be a starting guard and said he'll line up at fullback or defensive tackle if a team wants him there.
McGowan spent five years in Baylor's outrageously productive offense, the last couple as a role player. The Bears run a sort of pro-style spread, and McGowan feels prepared for what's next.
"A lot of the things that we do, you see in the NFL," he told SB Nation. "Well, maybe not using a 400-pound tight end. But a lot of the things that we do stem from the NFL, the style of play, I believe, that the NFL uses. You've got workout training and stuff like that, that's like the NFL. Offseason, it would be just like the NFL. Everything that we do stems around how things are done at the next level."
But he hasn't been able to gauge interest yet from any specific teams. He's going into the draft somewhat blind.
"It's just a waiting game," McGowan said. "All I can do at this point is pray. If it happens, it happens. If not, life goes on, and you've got to find something else."
McGowan is a big man, even among NFL big men. He reckons his time in the league wouldn't last longer than three to five years, an accomplished NFL career even for mere 300-pounders, whose weight can cause health problems.
Fortunately, he has a post-playing career already in mind.
"I feel like once that's over with, the WWE is calling my name"
The Amarillo, Texas, native wants to be a professional wrestler. He's already talked to a "couple of people" in the industry who "said they might be interested and talked to me a little bit about the process and how stuff works."
When asked, incredulously, if he was serious about planning this far ahead, McGowan deadpanned, "Yup. I'lllllll do it," drawing it out for emphasis.
"I've watched it on TV. I've thought about, 'What would be something good or something that I would enjoy doing for a decent, for a long period of time?'" he said. "For big guys in the NFL, they really don't last that long."
This isn't a lifelong dream for McGowan. He started thinking about it recently, and he only watched the WWE occasionally while he was growing up. But he sounds determined to give it a try, with one thing left to figure out.
"I've been thinking, and I can't come up with a nickname," he said. "But I'll get one. It'll be the best nickname you've got out there, too."
McGowan wants you to know he's more than just huge
When you're well over 6'7, you're already partly an NFL scout's dream. But when you're more than 400 pounds, it's not the easiest thing to convince evaluators you've got abilities beyond being huge.
"Some people may be blinded by my size and not recognize, you know, the skill set that I do have. Once they see me, they might go ahead and make a preconceived judgment on how I might play or something like that," he said. "But those people don't know that I can catch. I can run. I have the agility to do stuff."
There's a pretty good chance he's faster than you, and he's got experience in basketball, track and baseball. He was a placekicker in high school and says most of his kickoffs reached the end zone. He can also catch footballs with one hand.
But it's pretty clear that size is McGowan's defining asset
McGowan embraces being gigantic and he thinks it gives him a psychological edge. Rarely do linemen or linebackers go head-to-head against someone who completely dwarfs them.
"It's always good, man. Sometimes it gets in people's heads, and just looking at a guy, saying, 'Wow, he's huge.' Sometimes it disrupts something in someone else's head. Someone might have longer arms than someone else, so it's just an advantage, being bigger," he said. "There's always gonna be someone stronger, always gonna be someone faster, but to me, I just can't let anyone outwork me. If I'm going against someone that's on the defense, my goal is to never let them beat me as long as we're going up against each other."
On left: Baylor's LaQuan McGowan (410 lbs) size 52 pants. On the right: WR Corey Coleman's size 26. @CollegeGameDay pic.twitter.com/v4FRbErKKK— Shannon Spake (@SSpakeESPN) October 23, 2015
For fun, SB Nation grilled McGowan on whether he'd rather catch a touchdown or lay a massive pancake block on somebody. It was a hard question, but there was only one answer.
"Yeah," he said, "you can give me a pancake any day."
Before the WWE, McGowan is set on playing in the NFL.
McGowan is trimming a little bit -- now to 405 pounds -- before the draft. If he gets drafted, the likeliest spot is somewhere late, or he could catch on as an undrafted free agent.
The NFL is a brutal business, and the odds aren't in favor of anyone but the highest picks staying for long. But McGowan projects confidence that's as big as he is.
"I highly doubt that I won't get in and get on a team. To me, it's a must. Like, I have to get to the NFL. I have to get there, for me, because I've been doing this for so long," he said.
"Why stop now?"