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'Greatest Job Fair in the World'

MOBILE, Ala. — Now hiring.

Well, the job won't officially be offered for some time, but an intensively thorough examination process is underway.

Members of all 32 NFL teams convened on the Gulf Coast where 110 draft-eligible prospects arrived Monday to participate in a week full of practices, appearances and in-person evaluations with the hopes of making a great impression in the lead up to Saturday's Reese's Senior Bowl.

"I think it's the greatest job fair in the football world when you think about it: 110 players, 32 teams, you're not going to have that ratio at any other point in your entire career," Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage said. "The only players that hurt themselves by coming to the Senior Bowl are those that didn't belong and were going to be found out about anyway."

Savage, who took the helm of the Senior Bowl in June 2012, said the bowl week, which is about a month before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, is well-timed in the evaluation calendar and has helped prepare players for combines and pro days as teams survey and scrutinize as much information as possible in the lead up to the NFL Draft, which is scheduled for April 30-May 2 in Chicago this year.

"We feel like we're offering a gift here, a gift to showcase yourself, to build your brand starting today, and the exposure these players get to all 32 teams, the media, the opportunity to do the community service," Savage said. "This is a tremendous run-through for a player before he ever gets to the combine, before he ever gets to a real team after the draft."

Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty is one of three quarterbacks on the North team that will be coached this week by Ken Whisenhunt and the Titans staff along with Oregon State's Sean Mannion and East Carolina's Shane Carden.

"As far as opportunity goes, this is about as good as you can get," said Petty, who added the offense-oriented Whisenhunt's system could help him move up in the evaluative eyes that might be casting him as a system quarterback, albeit a highly successful one at Baylor.

"I've worked, not only the five years I've been at Baylor, but the previous, shoot 16-17 years to get to this point," Petty said. "I'm going to approach it as such, and this is the best job interview you can have. You don't have to wear a shirt and tie, you get to wear shoulder pads and a helmet and throw a football. I'm going to have a blast doing it, and again, embrace this opportunity."

Auburn receiver Sammie Coates, who is from Leroy, Ala., a town of under 1,000 people in the 2010 census an hour inland from Mobile, was one of three juniors (in terms of college eligibility because of a redshirt) who was granted an exemption to participate in the 66th Senior Bowl. He will be playing for Jaguars coaches, including Gus Bradley, a native of Zumbrota, Minn.

"Just to be back home and to get the opportunity to do that here and be in front of the scouts is big for me because I'm from Leroy," Coates said. "There were probably 75 people in my graduating class. An opportunity like this, you're just so thankful for it."

Coates said he wants to show he can play in an offense that is more pass-oriented that the one the Tigers have implemented.

T.J. Clemmings, a tackle from Pittsburgh, who switched to offensive line after opening his Panthers career with multiple seasons on the defensive line said he believes the bowl will allow him to demonstrate an ability to play left tackle and expand on right tackle.

"I look at it as a great opportunity because some of the best players in the country are all in one place and being able to compete," Clemmings said. "I'm looking forward to competing throughout the weekend and in this game."

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