He's a 6-foot-3, 248-pound physical specimen who bullied opposing offensive linemen for 12 sacks last season, and he'll learn his NFL future in this week's draft.
Just keep Adrian Tracy away from the cashews.
It seems that Tracy, who tied the William and Mary single-season sack record and also led the Tribe with 22 tackles for loss, has a weakness capable of doing what few players in the Colonial Athletic Association could: stopping him.
At William and Mary's pro day on March 17, Tracy wanted to improve on some of his numbers from February's NFL combine. But, though the likes of San Francisco coach Mike Singletary showed up to see him, Tracy couldn't do very much. Turns out he'd just been released three days earlier after a week in the hospital.
"I'm deathly allergic to any kind of tree nuts, such as almonds, pistachios, cashews, walnuts," said Tracy, who was given a protein shake with cashews by an anonymous teammate unaware of his allergy.
"My mouth was tasting funny, and I could feel my lips and my tongue start to swell, and my eyes started to water."
Tracy rushed for the Benadryl, but it didn't work.
"My body and system started to shut down," Tracy said. "It was a pretty scary ordeal."
Gil Brandt, the NFL analyst who spent 30 years as the Dallas Cowboys' vice president of player personnel, called Tracy to see how his pro day went, but didn't know about his cashew scare.
"Cashews ruining a guy's spot in the draft," Brandt said. "That's the first time I've heard that."
But Brandt doesn't think Tracy has much reason to worry. Though online projections have Tracy, a defensive end who likely will switch to linebacker in the NFL because of his size, going in the sixth or seventh rounds, Brandt thinks he could be chosen sooner.
"He's smart, instinctive, competes well versus the run and the pass, has good lateral pursuit, had outstanding production," Brandt said. " … The question more than anything is, is he going to be big enough to be a defensive lineman or is he going to be a 3-4 linebacker, which is always a transition?"
Tracy got his first real experience at linebacker during the Texas vs. the Nation Challenge, an annual all-star game, on Feb. 6. He made four tackles.
"I didn't feel like I was a fish out of water out there, required to be in space and dropped back in zones," Tracy said. "With your hand not in the dirt, it's a little bit different as far as what you're keying and reading, but once the ball is snapped, it's just about playing and leaving it all out there, every snap."
Brandt thinks Tracy's NFL future is at outside linebacker, where he can rush the passer off the edge.
"Thinking you can do it is one thing, and doing it when a game is live is another thing," Brandt said. "It's hard for guys who haven't been dropping into space to all of a sudden become space-type players, but this is the kind of guy you want to gamble on."
Last season, Jacksonville gambled on Tribe cornerback Derek Cox with a third-round pick. Cox led the Jaguars with four interceptions and had 72 tackles.
"Last year, people thought Cox was a reach, and he turned out to be a really good football player," Brandt said. "I think that Tracy is basically the same way."
Tracy has visited Pittsburgh and the New York Giants, coming away from both organizations impressed and motivated.
"One of the coaches on one of my interviews was saying it's not a scholarship position, where no matter what happens, they'll keep you around because they've invested money in you," Tracy said. "To a certain extent that's true, but it's a job as well, and you can easily get fired. That really hit home, especially when you're going around the league and you're seeing grown men in the locker room and you know that they have kids and families and other things to provide for. When they see young guys come in, they're pretty much putting on their hard hat and getting ready to go to work."
After weeks of working out at the Perfect Competition training facility in Davie, Fla., perfecting his footwork and his coverage recognition, Tracy is back home in the Northern Virginia city of Sterling with his family. He doesn't plan to watch the draft, which begins Thursday night on ESPN and the NFL Network. The second and third rounds will be Friday, with rounds four through seven on Saturday.
"It's been a dream I've had since I was a little kid, but also it kind of feels like, to a certain extent … like it's supposed to be the next step," Tracy said. "It's kind of like when you come out of high school and those guys that have played pretty well know that they'll be able to play at college, but just don't know where. I kind of feel the same way. I feel like this is what's supposed to be happening, and if wasn't, then I would be nervous and antsy and wondering what I was supposed to do with that William and Mary degree.
"But this just feels right. Everything feels appropriate in regards to me pursuing this as my career and my job, and I'm definitely looking forward to make the most of it."
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