MOBILE, Ala. - Marcus Davenport didn't arrive at UTSA as a big-time prospect, or even a particularly big one.
Then a slender 198-pound defensive end who had played some wide receiver in high school, Davenport has since gained 60 pounds and considerable interest from NFL teams.
The 6-foot-6, 259-pounder is one of the top NFL prospects at the Senior Bowl this week, rated as a potential first-rounder and maybe even a Top 10 pick.
"It wasn't so long ago that this wasn't even a thought or on my radar," Davenport said.
He has definitely been on NFL teams' radar. Davenport, who says he first realized NFL scouts were interested in him late in his junior season, was rated as the 10th-best prospect for the April draft by NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah.
The Conference USA defensive player of the year made his biggest weight gain before his senior season with a simple strategy: "See food, eat food."
As a player, his biggest strength has been see quarterback, get quarterback.
Davenport set school records with 17.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks as a senior. He also returned a fumble for a touchdown and forced three.
But outside of NFL circles and C-USA, Davenport wasn't a big name.
"He's probably the player in this game that is not well known but by the time we get to Saturday, he's going to be the talk of the game, perhaps," Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage predicted early in the week.
Davenport seems bemused by some of the attention, or at least the questions asked by reporters and NFL team officials alike.
He assures coaches and scouts that he didn't end up at his hometown team in San Antonio, Texas, because of problems with his grades or off-the-field issues.
The explanation, he assures them, is simply that it was his last official visit and he liked the people.
"I always find it funny, like what would you guys expect? What answer would you guess?" Davenport said.
He also didn't get a wealth of experience against Power 5 competition before this week. Davenport did have 11 tackles a sack and a fumble recovery against Texas A&M as a junior.
Does he think film from those games can help his status with NFL teams?
"I've heard people say that it does but honestly I don't care," Davenport said. "You can put on almost all my film and I go hard. There's not really a dropoff in production."
His situation has drawn some comparisons to 2013 Senior Bowl defensive end Ziggy Ansah, then a raw talent who was drafted fifth overall by the Detroit Lions.
Davenport said his best attribute is his work ethic and he did put it on display last fall. During the season, he loaded up with 18 credit hours in order to graduate.
He described his typical day as wake up, football, home work, film study, class, study, watch film late into the night.
Davenport's typical Senior Bowl day has included meetings with teams, South coaches, practices. Repeat.
When asked early in the week, he had a modest take on what impression he wanted to leave on NFL teams.
"That guy's interesting," Davenport said. "That's the best way I can put it."
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