Air Force senior outside linebacker John Rabold recently returned to the academy from Hawaii, where he spent a week preparing for and playing in the Hula Bowl – a senior all-star game that acts in large part as a showcase for NFL scouts.
I spoke to Rabold this afternoon about his experience at the game.
Jake Schaller: What was it like at the Hula Bowl?
John Rabold: It was a great experience. I had a lot of fun out there. In the morning we had football practice and meetings and walk-throughs, but then by lunchtime we were done with the football aspects. We’d do community activities, sign autographs. But we were staying on the beach, so we got the opportunity to go to the beach almost every day.
JS: Where were you, exactly?
JR: We were in Honolulu, the Waikiki area. … It was great. The local people were really nice to us down there. We had all different types of food. But we had rice with about every meal so I’m laying off the rice a little now. We were having it for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.
JS: How did you feel you measured up to the other players?
JR: I feel I measured up equally with the guys up there. When we first went up there it went through my head that I had been playing at an academy and people were saying that the Mountain West was not one of the top conferences in the country. But after playing up there and playing with some Mountain West people, I felt we were just as good or better than the people at the bigger, known schools.
JS: What was your interaction with pro scouts?
JR: Scouts were out there, and I talked to some of them. … They said they’d keep an eye on me and everything. They said they liked what they saw in me out there. They said I was faster than what they had suspected. And I was faster in practice than they thought I was. Practice was the key part. They looked at you more there than in the actual game. I’ve got a two-year commitment and they all know that, so I have to serve in the Air Force first and hopefully something will come up.
JS: Your teammate, Drew Fowler, will be playing in the East-West Shrine game Saturday. Did you share your experiences with him?
JR: I kept in touch with him. We talked about every day or exchanged text messages. I gave him a heads up, told him what to expect practice-wise and at all the meetings.
JS: Were you more encouraged about your pro prospects after the game?
JR: I was. I felt like I had a pretty good week of practice and played pretty well in the game. I thought I helped myself out there, and hopefully they saw I’m able to play and I’ll be willing to put in the hard work and make it to the next level. I think I did nothing but help myself.
JS: Will you be back to Hawaii?
JR: Most definitely. It was a great trip. I love the beach, so it definitely will be a trip I take in the future to get back there.