OXFORD, MS (WLBT) - Ole Miss football will have nine former players participating in the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine later this week, but they won’t be the only Rebels making the voyage to Indianapolis.
Dr. Marshall Crowther, medical director for the University of Mississippi Department of Health and Sports Performance, and Kyra Kendrick, Assistant Director of On-Campus Recruiting for the football team, have both been chosen to represent the school in different facets at this year’s NFL combine.
Kendrick, serving in her role as a member of the recruiting operation since 2016, was selected to attend the Women’s Careers in Football Forum, which takes place in conjunction with the combine.
Crowther was invited by the NFL to serve as a guest physician from the NCAA. The league selects just one team doctor from all Division I schools to attend the combine, and makes their selection based on “those conferences and schools that tend to have players represented at the Combines each year,” according to the NFL Physicians Society.
While the Rebels’ nine representatives to the combine are showcasing their strengths and physical feats on the gridiron, Crowther and Kendrick will be learning the ins-and-outs of the professional ranks in hopes that they can bring their newfound knowledge back to Oxford and improve their day-to-day operations.
“I’m there to learn,” Kendrick said. “They told us they were going to put us in front of panelists, and, for me, it’s to learn about things. You don’t know what you don’t know. Being able to be exposed to people who are working currently in those roles, just to see how they got there, see what they currently do, I think it will be very eye-opening.”
The NFL’s goal in the annual Women’s Forum is to put women in leadership roles within the sport of football, be it in coaching, officiating, scouting, or other positions. Kendrick is one of just a few women employed full-time for the Rebel football team, and she hopes that her experience and resume will help open up avenues for aspiring women everywhere.
“I think that, in certain spaces, especially in sports, women just haven’t had the opportunity,” Kendrick said. “Now, we are at a day and age where women are being looked at as just as capable, if not more, and that gets me very excited. I am more than happy to be an advocate for others who are trying to get where I am. I definitely wouldn’t be where I am now without other women helping me.”
On campus in Oxford, Kendrick is tasked with coordinating unofficial and official visits for prospective student-athletes, as well as serving as an academic liaison for Ole Miss. Much of her role involves cultivating meaningful relationships with potential and current Rebels, as well as their families.
“I meet with NFL scouts weekly during the season, and while my boss gives the football background, I give the personal background,” Kendrick said. “I do little things here and there as well. I wear many hats.”
Kendrick is nine years removed from college, having graduated from the University of Louisville in 2010, and she has elevated through the ranks of the sport quickly. She began her professional career in athletics at LSU, before coming to Ole Miss to serve as an Academic Counselor to student-athletes, and then finally landing within the recruiting office in 2016.
Draft Day, the film starring Kevin Costner chronicling the Cleveland Browns’ 2014 draft process, is one of her favorite movies, and the management roles depicted in the movie have drawn her ever since.
“I definitely have goals I want to achieve, and I want to become a decision maker and have a seat at the table, not only for myself but for other women who are up-and-coming behind me,” Kendrick said. “There are opportunities that people say you just can’t turn down, and I would say making it to the peak of football, working for the NFL, is definitely one of them.”
While Kendrick is taking in the experience of Women’s Forum, Dr. Crowther will be busy across the street observing the medical evaluation process, interacting with multiple team physicians, and just crafting a general understanding of the medical side of the NFL combine.
“I’m hoping to bring back a better understanding of how medical issues are dealt with at the NFL level, just because we have so many athletes that have the opportunity to go and play at that next level,” Crowther said.
Crowther currently serves as the medical director and team physician on campus, as well as a staff physician at the University Health Center.
“I see students and athletes on a daily basis on campus,” Crowther said. “My role is to service students and student-athletes when it comes to general medical care.”
The NFL’s goal in extending an invitation to one Division I team physician was to foster a better understanding of the processes involved with making the transition from the collegiate to professional level from a medical perspective.
“It was done to increase collaboration between professional team physicians and college team physicians, in hopes that it better prepares college athletes for the transition,” Crowther said. “There may be a lot of unknown that goes on from an athlete’s perspective. Hopefully this is going to help us help them know what to expect when they go to the combine and have these in-depth evaluations.”
The 2019 NFL Combine will be held from Feb. 26 to March 4, and Ole Miss will be well-represented across the board. Joining Crowther and Kendrick will be wide receivers A.J. Brown, DaMarkus Lodge and D.K. Metcalf, quarterback Jordan Ta'amu, offensive linemen Greg Little and Javon Patterson, tight end Dawson Knox, cornerback Ken Webster and safety Zedrick Woods.
The Rebels’ nine players selected to attend the combine tied for fourth in the nation, behind just the Alabama Crimson Tide.
“I’m super excited about all the guys that got a combine invite. I can’t wait to see what they do, I’m sure all of them have been prepping, and I definitely think it will be a ‘Hotty Toddy’ moment.”