There hasn't been much downtime for the Patriots coaching staff this offseason, from traveling back to Las Vegas for a third time in a calendar year to coach at the Shrine Bowl, to Demarcus Covington's turn as the American team's defensive coordinator in the Senior Bowl, the staff has gotten an early jump this year's class of prospects and have already left a lasting impression on many that are now in Indianapolis for the Combine.
On Wednesday, many of the defensive linemen and linebackers that took to the various podiums explained they were grateful for the experience with New England's staff.
"I think I had a great week out there with them, wearing the green dot, calling the defense for them out there," said NC State linebacker Isaiah Moore, who also happens to be Jakobi Meyers' former roommate. "I think I was able to connect with them...It was awesome. Brian Belichick our linebacker coach out there, really great guy, very knowledgeable about the game, he just poured into us all week. I learned a lot from him."
"It was a lot of fun. I learned a lot from coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots," said Habakkuk Baldonato, a defensive lineman from Pitt. "I got a little inside look at what it's like to be coached by an NFL coaching staff. They were hands on. If you made a mistake, they told you and they helped you correct it. Everyone knows the Patriots coaching staff is a little different. We spent time learning special teams. It was a great experience."
Though there were certainly plenty of lessons learned on the field, as important, and perhaps more impactful was how the coaching staff helped prepare the players for what it really means to be a professional athlete.
"I think the biggest thing was how to attack everything as a pro," said Moore. "It's a different transition from college to the NFL where you have classes, different things you have to worry about. The NFL it's definitely all ball all the time and the Patriots are an organization that definitely preaches all ball all the time.
"Treat everything like a pro and be as consistent as possible, that's how you stick around."
"It's much different than working with college coaches," said Florida's Brenton Cox, who was captured on camera during Shrine Bowl practices getting some up-close coaching from Bill Belichick himself. "They're pretty straightforward, what they want you to do, you've got to do it right away. They want to see if you can take coaching on the spot. It was great working with them."
The intensity was a hallmark of the practice sessions, as the Shrine Bowl participants discovered a new level of immediacy in the NFL awaits them.
"They were with us pretty much 24/7, on the field there wasn't anybody standing back letting things happen," said Moore. "They were always coaching us, always talking to us making sure we're doing things the right way. They were big sticklers about those things."
"I loved being coached by coach Belichick hands on, he was real technical," Penn State's P.J. Mustipher said. "I really appreciated it because I learned so much from that aspect, but at the end of the day, he wasn't out there just being nice. He was giving hard criticism. That's the stuff I appreciate. That's the type of coach I want to be under. I want to be under a winner. I want to be under somebody who challenges me every day because I know that's going to make me a better player."
With the Pats getting an up-close and hands-on experience with so many soon-to-be rookies, it wouldn't be a surprise to see more than a couple of these Shrine Bowl standouts land in New England.