Tyler Wilson, Other Arkansas NFL Prospects Seek Return on Training

by Chris Bahn  on Monday, Apr. 1, 2013 12:00 am  

Knile Davis, former running back for the Arkansas Razorbacks,  has a salary potential of $548,513 to $537,588 if he lands on an NFL roster.  (Photo by Mark Wagner)

Tyler Wilson made his way down to Florida in early January. He spent about three months near the Gulf Coast, living in a two-bedroom condo with access to a new car, masseuse and a personal catering staff.

It was not, however, as glamorous or relaxing as it might sound. 

The former Razorback quarterback didn’t spend his days taking advantage of the beautiful beaches and plentiful golf courses popular to tourists who visit the area. And Wilson’s NFL earnings weren’t being spent before he earned them. 

This was a business trip.

Those three months were spent in Bradenton, Fla., home to the IMG Academy, a full-service training facility for athletes. IMG has become a popular spot for high-profile prospects hoping to hone their skills in preparation for a career in the NFL. The 23-year-old Wilson, an avid golfer, did spend his days cruising in a golf cart, but not on a course. That cart was the easiest way to get around the 400-acre grounds.

With millions of dollars at stake and position in this month’s draft potentially impacted by tenths of a second in a running drill or the first impression of a general manager, players like Wilson must maximize the months leading up to the NFL Draft. They want to do all they can to ensure they look good if invited to the NFL Combine or when participating in an on-campus pro day for scouts.

“I wanted a place that I could go that felt like training camp,” Wilson said. “You want to put yourself in a position where you’re not distracted. It was all-inclusive and you have everything you need all in one. That was big. And you get great weather too. You’re not battling the cold, not battling rainy days. That was good for me to get there and block out external distractions.”

Training is critical, and it can be costly.

Fees run as much as $40,000 per athlete, depending on what route an athlete chooses. One licensed NFL agent who spoke with Arkansas Business for this story said that, on average, an individual package — complete with housing, food, transportation physical training, position-specific instruction and personality/media training — costs $25,000.

Some athletes like Wilson have the cost of training paid for by the agent or agencies representing them. Others are able to train on loans offered by their agents, and some prospects are left to pay for services themselves or prepare as inexpensively as possible.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach. But athletes who have the means of attending an all-inclusive facility see it as a valuable investment.

“You’re trying to make as much money as you can,” former Razorback running back Dennis Johnson said.



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