STACK followed dozens of the NFL's top prospects as they hit the gym to get ready for the NFL Combine and beyond. In our Path to the Pros video series, we'll show you how these world-class athletes trained for the next level. First up: former Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Courtney Upshaw.
The centerpiece of college football's number-one ranked defense and the 2012 BCS National Championship Game Defensive MVP, Courtney Upshaw is widely considered the top-ranked outside linebacker in the 2012 NFL Draft.
"I hear all the accolades—he's a first-rounder, top 10, top 20," says Upshaw. "No matter if I'm the top linebacker or not, I want to prove that I'm worthy of all those accolades and just go out there and showcase my skills."
Instinctive play recognition and the ability to take on blocks makes the 6'2", 272-pound Upshaw an attractive outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme. But some NFL teams are intrigued by his potential as a defensive end in a 4-3 front, where he can use his exceptional lower-body power and violent hands to overpower offensive tackles and make plays in the backfield.
Upshaw, who prepared for the NFL Combine and his Pro Day at Athletes' Performance in Phoenix, describes himself as a versatile player who's just as comfortable dropping into coverage as he is rushing the passer. "I'm ready to go anywhere—3-4, 4-3, linebacker, D-end," he says. "I'm a competitor, so I want to go out there and compete."
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