MOBILE, Ala. — Emil Ekiyor Jr. takes center stage in front of NFL scouts during Senior Bowl practice this week. Literally.
After serving as Alabama’s left warden for the past three seasons, Ekiyor spent Monday at center position hoping to show his versatility on the line.
“It’s just fun hosting the show and making all the calls,” Ekiyor told Tide Illustrated. “I’m just showing my versatility. I want to show that I can play more than one spot on the line. I feel like I have enough protective film so why not play some center?
Ekiyor, 6-foot-3, 307 pounds, played at Indianapolis Center during his senior year at Cathedral High School. However, the position has been filled by Landon Dickerson, Darrian Dalcourt and Seth McClaughlin for the past three seasons in Alabama. Instead, all of Ekiyor’s 40 collegiate starts came in the correct guard position.
That made Monday’s position swap all the more enticing for NFL scouts.
“They didn’t actually know I could play center,” Ekiyor said. “I think today helped me in a way. They said versatility in positions is something they knock on me, so coming out here and showing that I can play more than one position has helped a lot.”
By all accounts, Ekiyor held his own against some of the nation’s best defenders.
“He did a great job out here,” said former Alabama defense tackle DJ Dale, who competed against his former teammate in practice. “Whenever we compete against each other, it’s a good competition, so I wasn’t surprised. Emil is super versatile and a really good player.”
Former Alabama lineman Tyler Steen had a different angle, blocking Ekiyor’s line in the left tackle. However, he came away just as impressed.
“Emil will look good anywhere on the line that he plays,” Steen said. “He looked natural out there today and he’s just going to keep improving and showing.”
According to Ekiyor, the biggest difference in changing positions is the managerial responsibility that comes with it. In addition to learning to work with a new group of teammates this week, the former Alabama lineman will also be responsible for forwarding lockdown duties at the scrimmage line. So far it has not been difficult for him to find his voice in Mobile.
“I like the responsibility that everyone is relying on my reputation,” Ekiyor said. “I get to run the show. I like to take responsibility and I know myself well enough to do that. I have no problems with that.”
Ekiyor’s versatility adds to his solid resume heading into the NFL draft in April. During his collegiate career, he not only started 40 games, but also blocked for two Heisman Trophy winners while helping Alabama to two SEC titles and a national championship. This week he’s looking to make one final impression with a Crimson Tide helmet.
“I’m just trying to keep showing my versatility and showing what a good player I am,” said Ekiyor. “I want to show the teams how much of a competitor I am and I look forward to it every day.”