With long college resumes that include a Heisman trophy and the title of winningest quarterback in college football history between them, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Texas' Colt McCoy are hopeful their transition to the NFL game is a steady and progressive one. But that doesn't mean they're not soliciting the advice of quarterbacks currently playing in the NFL.
One might expect Bradford or McCoy to bend the ear of a Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Peyton Manning, signal callers that have been to the top of the mountain in the NFL and won Super Bowl MVPs. But the two Big 12 quarterback prospects have been soliciting the advice of a pair of quarterbacks that have had their share of struggles in the league.
McCoy has been talking to fellow Texas alum Vince Young, whose NFL career got off to a blazing start, which included a Pro Bowl, before a subsequent benching that lasted more than a season. Young then rebounded in 2009.
"I've talked to Vince a lot," said McCoy. "He's always there for support, always there for any questions I have through this whole process. He's awesome. He had a tremendous year this year. I was definitely pulling for him. It's crazy to think we might be playing against each other."
For Bradford the counsel he sought was of a different sort. After his third-degree shoulder separation he got in touch with another quarterback that wound up being the first overall pick in the 2005 draft, Alex Smith. The 49ers signal caller needed shoulder surgery in 2007, his third season in the NFL.
"I actually talked to him before I had the surgery," said Bradford. "He just told me kind of what he went through when he went through the whole process, trying to decide if he should have surgery or not."
Bradford ultimately chose to have the surgery.
"From what I heard from doctors, after the second time (it was injured), for my long-term health, if I wanted to continue playing football and get stronger in the weight room, I needed to have the surgery," he said.
The Oklahoma quarterback felt better about his decision going into surgery after speaking with Smith, who had the same exact procedure with the same doctor.
"I know that he had the procedure done by Dr. Andrews," Bradford said. "From what I understand, it was pretty successful. He just told me what to expect from a rehab standpoint."
Bradford maintains it's been full steam ahead through much of his rehab with no setbacks to this point. He made a point of increasing his upper body strength and has added 12 pounds to his frame since last season.
"I wanted to get in the weight room (and) put some weight on," he said. "I came in at a good weight. There were some questions about my weight last year. People thought I was too small to come out. So I wanted to answer those questions this year, and it's something I put a lot of work into."
McCoy, who also suffered a throwing shoulder injury in the Rose Bowl, had a rehab process of his own. For the Texas quarterback however, there was no structural damage to his shoulder.
"There was never pain involved in the whole injury, the whole situation," McCoy said. "It was nerve damage in the deltoid. It was just completely dead. My arm was dead, my fingers were dead, I couldn't grip anything, really couldn't throw anything at all to raise up my arm. A couple of days after the game I regained all my feeling in my fingers and in my arm. (I've) just been battling the weakness part of it ever since."
The former Longhorn is at a point now in his rehab where he's throwing every day and going through physical therapy. He admits he's getting sick of the therapy, but understands it's a necessity.
For Bradford, he's still engrossed in his rehab schedule, which only allows him to throw every other day. His rehab program will be ending soon at which point he'll be cleared to throw every day.
"They're 20-40 yards, and I'm putting as much as I can on it," Bradford said of his throws. "I feel like if you want to get your arm stronger, that's what you've got to do. I've gotten stronger every time that I've thrown, and it feels really good right now. No discomfort."
Bradford intends to speak with young quarterbacks in the league like the Jets' Mark Sanchez to prep for the draft process come April. But sometimes talking with a player going through it with you is just as effective in coping with all the hype that surrounds quarterbacks. It's why between now and then Bradford will be keeping in touch with his fellow Big 12 quarterback.
"Me and Colt, we've gotten to know each other; we're good friends," he said. "So I think it's good that you actually have someone that you can talk to about this whole process and go through it together."
"Sam and I are great friends," said McCoy. "We're pulling for each other in this whole deal. We talked about our shoulders, we've talked about our rehab, and the process and how it's not that fun. But at the same time, he's a guy I'll be playing with in the NFL for the next 10 years. Definitely pulling for him, I know he's pulling for me."