Saginaw Valley State wide receiver Jeff Janis
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound receiver is just one of a handful of non-Division I players invited to participate in college football's premier all-star game. But it's no secret why Janis was selected.
Over the past two seasons, he's caught a staggering 189 passes for 3,207 yards and 31 touchdowns. Leading up the NFL draft, the Senior Bowl offers a unique opportunity for Janis to show scouts that his talent and production translates against NFL-bound defensive backs from BCS conferences.
Through the first three days of practice, Janis believes he's holding up well against the increased level of competition.
"These are some of the best players in country," he said. "Obviously, coming from D-II, I don't see that all the time. I've gone against some good corners in my career, but it hasn't been as consistent. It's just competition, just showing coaches you can compete no matter what."
In Saturday's game, Janis will also return kicks, something he did sparingly with the Cardinals. He views special teams as an area he can make an impression on potential employers.
Janis calls his top-end speed his strength. He's been electronically timed under 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash on three occasions and expects to do it again at the NFL combine next month.
He's currently projected as a mid-round selection, but running the 40 in the 4.3s will garner significant attention, especially at his size. Last season, five receivers cracked 4.4 seconds, but none were taller than 6-feet.
As for areas of improvement, because of the increased level of competition, Janis is adjusting to the smaller windows of space he has to make a reception. That means he's focusing on refining his technique in a number of areas, from his explosiveness off the line of scrimmage, to relying more on his hands to make grabs.
"Working on my explosiveness off the line and getting past DBs, that's huge," he said. "Usually, if I can beat them in the first couple steps, it's good for me. That's something I'm going to keep working on."
Whatever Janis is doing, it's working. His coach at the Senior Bowl, Atlanta Falcons' Mike Smith, told reporters after Wednesday's practice the receiver has caught the attention of his staff.
But it's not just the coaches Janis has been directly working with this week. He said he's had conversations with almost every NFL team in Mobile, except two, including his hometown Detroit Lions.