March 3, 2007
AUBURN - Kody Bliss ended his Auburn career as one of the most accomplished punters in school history. He averaged 43.9 yards per punt for his career, which ranks him second in team history.
The Brentwood, Tenn., native, was recently invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, where the best prospects are invited. He sat down with www.auburntigers.com to discuss the NFL Combine and what his plans are to train before the NFL Draft.
AuburnTigers.com: How long were you there?
Kody Bliss: "I was there from Wednesday afternoon to Saturday afternoon. About four days."
AU: How was the flight?
KB: "The flights were good. As soon as you get there they have you doing stuff. Their goal is trying to make you uncertain of yourself and not know what's going on. They want to see you at your worst. They want to know if they can get into your head and make you nervous. If so they want to see you that way so they know what they are going to get in crunch time."
AU: Were you nervous on the flight out?
KB: "Not really. I actually slept on the way there. We didn't have to do anything physical for three days until we got there, so there really wasn't much to be nervous about. As soon as you get there, you change into the clothes they give you and go straight to the hospital to get your blood work and x-rays. Any injury you have ever had, you get x-rayed. They do EKGs and things like that. It takes about four of five hours."
AU: Was being under the microscope overwhelming?
KB: "For the most part they tell you exactly what to do. You go on the first day to the hospital for about five hours. On the second day you go see the team doctors, and they get to examine and pull and pry on you. You get somewhere around 200 doctors, each one with their own shot at your shoulders and knees to make sure that you don't have anything wrong with you."
AU: What was the biggest surprise about that part?
KB: "You hear about how much time is going to be spent on you, but you don't realize it until you have a guy pulling on both of your legs and your arms and four guys pulling on you at the same time. Then there are guys waiting in line to check their spots. It's one of the things about doctors. Each doctor thinks they are smarter than the other doctors. They each want their chance to get their opinion on you."
AU: How many other kickers were at the combine?
KB: "There were eight punters and six kickers there."
AU: Did you feel a fraternal aspect there?
KB: "We definitely kind of stuck together. We were in group one, all the kickers were. We had to go do things at the same time, so we were together anyway."
AU: Do you think that is something that might carry over to the league?
KB: "Sure, I don't expect that all of us are going to make it there, but the three or four that do, it probably will."
AU: With fellow kicker Matt Clark there, was it nice to have an Auburn guy there with you?
KB: "It was definitely nice to have him around. We also had (Ben) Grubbs and (Tim) Duckworth there at the same time, and the next day CT (Courtney Taylor) came in. We had a few Auburn guys there while I was there."
AU: Does that help in dealing with all of the pressure?
KB: "Definitely. It's nice to have someone to talk to about what is going on. When you go to interviews, you basically stand around for 10 or 15 minutes and then get grabbed by someone. It's nice to have someone there who you can stand around with instead of standing by yourself in the corner."
AU: What were some of the questions that the teams were asking you?
KB: "They want to know first off how well you can communicate. They were asking basic background questions about your family and school history, just trying to see how you communicate and if you can talk to them and get across your ideas. On top of that they want to know if you have ever been arrested or failed a drug test. If you have ever been suspended from a team, they want to know why. They want to see you talk about it. They want to know what you did wrong, why you did it and if you are going to do it in the future. They try to catch people off guard because they know that people are not going to be completely honest with them. They try to get the information they need out of you in a number of ways."
AU: How many teams did you talk to?
KB: "I probably talked to about somewhere between 20 and 25 of the special teams coaches. They teams that don't need punters aren't going to bother with you because they have other things to deal with. I talked to pretty much any team there that might need a punter."
AU: Did it seem like any teams were more aggressive in their questioning?
KB: "There were some teams that wanted just the basic information from you. There were some teams that really wanted to get into your football knowledge and see if you really know the plays. Even with me, being a punter, they wanted to know if I knew our protection and coverage. That is something I have always been pretty good on. I could probably coach our punt coverage because I have been to so many meetings. I was able to walk through the entire thing. Especially at other positions, they'll ask you do draw your base offense against a dime defense. Then they'll ask you to draw your best first down play. They want to see your entire knowledge of the game and see how smart you are."
AU: Who did you room with while you were there?
KB: "I roomed with an offensive lineman from Georgia Tech. Most of the time they room you with your position, but they just kind of threw some of us in."
AU: What did you do at the hotel?
KB: "Anytime I was there I was napping if I was able to skip out on some psychological test or something like that."
AU: Did the number of media seem overwhelming?
KB: "The thing is we never see them. We never talked to them because they, at least at this event, blend in except for the major guys who do press conferences. For the most part, when we were kicking there were tons of people in the stands, but they were far enough away you couldn't tell if they were scouts or the press. It's not like at Auburn were they are around the field. They were up in the stands just like everyone else."
AU: Was it a nice experience having the NFL Network televise the combine?
KB: "Yeah, that's great. I wish the NFL Network was a little more widespread. The NFL Network is going to keep growing and growing. From what I have watched, it seems like a really nice feature for the NFL fan. I think as that gets bigger, the coverage of the combine is going to spread every year."
AU: How did you perform on the field?
KB: "I think I did as well as I have been working toward. I only had one bad punt the entire time. I think I was the best one with the directional punting aspect. There are definitely three punters who are leading the pack: myself, the kid from Maryland (Adam Podlesh) and the kid from Baylor (Daniel Sepulveda). We were definitely the top three there. I think us three will probably end up being drafted. Then there is going to be a few more guys picked up because most teams have two punters going into training camp just to save their older guys' leg. I think we three have a real good chance of making a squad for next year."
AU: Did you get any feedback from other teams while you were there?
KB: "After I kicked I tried to talk to a couple of the special teams coaches who I had already talked to just to see what they thought of my performance and things like that. They all said I did well and that they liked what I saw."
AU: What are you going to do between now and the draft?
KB: "You have to keep working. I have three weeks until our pro day. After that teams will do private workouts. They will either fly down here, or fly you to where they are. You really have to keep working and stay on top of your game. If they bring you in for a private workout, they are really serious about you. You can't have a bad day there, you really need to impress them when you get the chance."
AU: Where are you working out?
KB: "I am still working out in Auburn. I can get most of the things I need to get done here. I have been kicking on the practice fields and working out either in the weight room or over at the Student Act."
AU: Are you going to attend some of the spring practices?
KB: "Yes, I am still going to go out there and see some of the kids I am friends with to see how the kids are the competing and how the team is coming along."