Normally it doesn’t take much for Jamil Demby to stand out in a crowd. After all, he stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 335 pounds.

But this week he might have to do something special to be noticed. Demby, a senior offensive tackle last fall at the University of Maine, is participating in the NFL combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The combine, where prospective NFL players are tested and work out for teams, began Tuesday and runs through Monday. His workout day is Friday.

Demby is just the sixth UMaine football player to be invited to the combine since 1990. He knows what he has to do.

“Stay with my tunnel vision,” he said. “And keep grinding.”

That’s all Demby has been doing since the Black Bears’ season ended Nov. 18. He’s been working out – training in California at the EXOS athletic performance facility since early January – and played in two college all-star games. His performances in those games – the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the Senior Bowl – earned him his invitation to the combine.

“From an exposure standpoint, the Senior Bowl definitely helped me a lot,” said Demby, who grew up in Vineyard, New Jersey. “Throughout the week there, I was playing against top competition, the type of competition that they thought the kid from Maine couldn’t handle. I think I proved them wrong, then I played solid in the game, which helped me … I just need to continue to rise to the occasion, to be the small-school guy that not a lot of people know about, but turns heads.”

Demby is just one of four Colonial Athletic Association players to earn an invite to the combine. The CAA is part of the Football Championship Subdivision, the lower of the two levels of NCAA Division I. Most players invited to the combine come from the Football Bowl Subdivision. Among the other CAA players is Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta, who was the MVP of the Senior Bowl and is considered by many to be a perfect fit for the New England Patriots in their search for a backup to Tom Brady.

NFL scouts have certainly noticed Demby. His combine profile includes this line: “Demby isn’t an elite athlete, but his intelligence and ability to punch, move his feet, and anchor in pass protection make him an intriguing prospect.”

While participating in the combine doesn’t guarantee a player will be drafted, it certainly doesn’t hurt.

“It’s a big deal for Jamil to get one of these invites,” said Mike Derice, an area scout for the Indianapolis Colts who visits the Black Bears often. “He was a good player who might have been under the radar for the majority of the winter … He’s done well for himself. Now he gets a chance to showcase his athleticism as well as interview with more coaches and scouts who have to make a decision on the roster.”

Kendall James knows what that invite means. A former cornerback for the Black Bears, he was invited to the 2014 combine, which led to him being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round. He now plays for the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League.

“It meant everything to be acknowledged at that stage that the NFL had its eye on me,” said James. “It was eye-opening. And it was cool. It was fun, exciting, a dream come true.”

At the combine, players are tested in the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill, vertical jump, broad jump and bench press.

“There’s no pressure on us small-school guys,” said James. “We’re under the radar anyhow. It’s about just getting noticed more. There’s no pressure. Just have fun, do what you always do.”

For Demby, that means showing not only his athletic talent, but his strength. “I’ve got to check off the boxes,” he said. “Leave them with no questions, no doubts, and test well. Remember my techniques from training and apply it to 100 percent of what I do.

“There’s slight pressure. If there’s none then you’re not human. But I’ve been prepared well.”

Demby was a four-year starter for the Black Bears at left tackle, earning first-team Phil Steele FCS All-America first-team honors as well as first-team all-CAA.

“It’s pretty unbelievable to see him there,” said UMaine Coach Joe Harasymiak. “He’s one of those guys that was passed up and played with a chip on his shoulder. And he came to an environment where is was tough and he had to be resourceful. It’s great for him and his family. I hope he continues to work hard and improve.”

Demby has one semester remaining before he graduates and is working with his professors to complete his courses while training on the West Coast. In California he’s been working out with many of the players who will be at the combine.

“I’ve just got to stay grounded,” he said. “There’s going to be scouts and teams that love you and scouts and teams that are not attracted to you as a player. Everybody has opinions. You can’t pay attention to any of that. You’ve got to continue to better yourself mentally and physically. And that’s what I’ve been doing.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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