MOBILE, Ala. — The whispers about defensive end George Selvie at the Senior Bowl are short and not so sweet.
A scout who saw him play throughout his career at USF assessed him as a player with a great first step who then manages to disappear. A general manager labeled him as a great effort player who is otherwise very unspectacular. He's not considered a workout warrior or a freakish athlete.
But Selvie is here because he wishes to quiet the critics with a loud-and-clear statement that he can take his production to the NFL.
After all, the guy is a stat machine.
The only two-time All-American in USF history, he had 691/2 tackles for loss and 29 sacks, including 141/2 (second-best in the nation) as a sophomore in 2007. But the draft process can be unforgiving, leaving even a player this decorated on the defensive.
It's a position Selvie embraces.
"Everybody just feels like my '07 year was my best," he said. "I just came here to prove that I'm the same guy but even better.
"I have a point to prove."
A point made by many others is Selvie should have entered the draft after his junior season. He wasn't as far removed from his great sophomore campaign, and his stock presumably was higher than it is now, seeing how he is coming off two seasons that were modest by his standards.
But Selvie doesn't regret the move. He earned his degree. He learned more football. And, he said, he's better because of it.
"I believe it was an easy decision," said the 22-year-old from Pensacola. "I had a lot to prove. I felt like I made the right decision — for me."
Right call or not, Selvie is here trying to make the best of his situation. He certainly hasn't hurt himself. Wednesday, he showed some power and took advantage of the lack of double teams, something that became the norm during his college career.
But with players who have as much film to dissect as Selvie, it seems little is left to the imagination. As a result, the player sometimes is graded more harshly than others with less of a track record. Selvie nodded in agreement when the point was raised. He didn't have much of a response, though.
"That's how it goes," he said. "But I know what I know."
Something no one knows is if he can make the transition to a 3-4 outside linebacker. It's something that has been discussed with him by teams during interviews this week.
What will determine if Selvie is a good candidate to make the switch is if he proves he can cover a lot of ground — he would be playing farther away from the ball — and if his ability to drop into coverage is adequate.
For his part, Selvie is more than willing to make the change if it's asked of him.
"They want to know if I mind standing up," Selvie said of the inquiries. "I feel like I can rush the passer standing up or with my hand in the dirt.
"I'll just have to prove that I can play linebacker. They want to see me run in space, so I'm going to have to work on that a lot."
To that end, the 6-foot-4 Selvie is trying to bulk up. After weighing in at 247 pounds at the start of this week, he said his goal is to get to 260 by the draft in April. He's utilizing an increased diet and mass-building shakes to get there, believing it will help his stock.
Selvie almost certainly won't be the first-round pick that teammate and fellow defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has establishing himself as. But Selvie has overcome long odds before. When he arrived at USF as an offensive lineman, considered a long shot to see the field, he adapted. He approached his coaches saying he would do whatever it took to crack the lineup. They suggested a move to defensive end, however dramatic it seemed.
Even his coaches probably wondered if he could make the switch.
Today, Selvie is calling upon the lessons learned through that experience, and it will serve him well even as he tries to dispel mounting doubts.
"Everything that people have said I couldn't do, I did it," he said. "I feel like I can prove them wrong and work hard and get there."
Time will tell, but it's hard not to think he's well on his way.
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at [email protected]