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UT's Kowalski getting set for NFL draft

300-pound Rocket in 2-minute drill for draft

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    UT senior Kevin Kowalski has been working out in the Larimer Athletic Complex on campus anticipating this week’s NFL draft.

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    Kevin Kowalski builds strength in his left shoulder with a 180-pound press exercise. The UT senior has been working out in anticipation of this week’s NFL draft.

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kevin-kowalski-larimer-athletic-complex

UT senior Kevin Kowalski has been working out in the Larimer Athletic Complex on campus anticipating this week’s NFL draft.

THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER
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Kevin Kowalski knows it’ll get worse before it gets better.

The anxiety and anticipation that the University of Toledo senior is experiencing will continue to grow until draft day.

A 6-foot-3, 300-pound offensive lineman, Kowalski has been working out, studying, and networking since January in the hopes of being selected in this year’s NFL draft, which runs Thursday through Saturday.

Most NFL scouting Web sites project Kowalski as a seventh-round pick or an undrafted free agent, and he said last week he has been in serious talks and attended private workouts with “a handful” of NFL teams.

“Aside from that, I’ve just been working out by myself and just waiting around at this point for the next week,” Kowalski said. “I try to keep myself occupied. I’m still taking online classes and training, so you stay pretty busy. But it’s definitely a little nerve-wracking, a little exciting.”

Following UT’s 34-32 overtime loss to Florida International in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Kowalski went home to Macedonia, Ohio, for a week before commencing a training program in California.

After that, he participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., where he met with numerous NFL coaches, general managers, scouts, and other team personnel and showcased his ability to play either center or guard on the North squad.

“That was a great experience, ­getting to play against some of the best players in the country,” Kowalski said. “There was great competition down there, and it’s something that I think will definitely help me throughout this process.”

Kowalski then went back to California to prepare for his pro day at UT in March, focusing on paring his time in the 40-yard dash, increasing his vertical jump, and improving the other “measurables” NFL teams use to scout talent.

Since then, Kowalski has been staying in Toledo and working out in the Fetterman Training Center and in the weight room at Larimer Athletic Complex.

Although he’s focused on getting his body into the best shape possible and watching plenty of film to sharpen his football knowledge, Kowalski also understands most of his work is already complete.

“It’s all on film at this point,” he said.

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Kevin Kowalski builds strength in his left shoulder with a 180-pound press exercise. The UT senior has been working out in anticipation of this week’s NFL draft.

THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER
Enlarge | Buy This Image

“That’s what my stock is really based off of — how I played the last four years. There’s always things I’m continually working on to make sure that I’m successful if I get an opportunity, and that’s just everything, to be honest.”

Kowalski will graduate from UT next month, but he’s hoping not to have to put his degree to use quite yet as he pursues a career in the NFL.

According to sidelinescouting.com, Kowalski is the 10th-best center in the draft but is projected as an undrafted free agent.

Some of Kowalski’s positives the site lists are his “smart, heady, [with] good football IQ,” that he’s a “scrapper [and] gives good effort,” and that he’s “tough [and possesses a] mean streak.”

Kowalski’s negatives, according to Sideline Scouting, are that he “lacks good quickness, can be beaten by quicker defenders” and that he has “shorter than ideal arms, marginal hand use.”

NFLdraftscout.com has Kowalski being a seventh-round selection or free-agent.

As for the feedback Kowalski has gotten from NFL personnel, it has been a mixed bag.

“Every team has different views on you and where they think you’ll land [in the draft],” Kowalski said.

“Overall I’ve been pretty pleased with it, and I’m just waiting now to see what exactly happens this weekend.”

Kowalski said he’ll be back in northeast Ohio with his family during the draft, but won’t necessarily be glued to the TV all weekend.

“I’ll just hang out and see if my name’s called,” he said. “And if not, see what happens after that.”

Contact Zach Silka at: zsilka@theblade.com or 419-724-6084.

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