Tyquan Lewis was unfazed by the spotlight of the Senior Bowl and equally undaunted by what will be a four-month audition in front of NFL teams dissecting his every move.
That's because the former Ohio State standout believes his time in Columbus has prepared for him for the highs, lows and everything in between of professional football. And in a career of big games and big moments, the stage this week in Mobile, Alabama, feels familiar.
"At Ohio State, the first they do is treat you like grown men, they treat you like professionals," he said. "And that's how we learned to maneuver and get to the next stage in our career. That's how we go about business every single day, like a professional would."
That approach should serve Lewis and his teammate, Jalyn Holmes, well now and in the future. The pair of Ohio State defensive ends are among dozens of prospects at the annual all-star game hoping to make their mark in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Lewis and Holmes, who won the 2014-15 national title as freshmen and helped the Buckeyes finish 12-2 this past season, were adamant Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and defensive line coach Larry Johnson — who's helped develop seven first-round picks, including Chargers' star defensive end Joey Bosa — have set them up for future success. The Senior Bowl, they said, is one of several opportunities to demonstrate that.
"This game is one of showing (teams) I can be productive and versatile on the field," Holmes said.
Holmes, voted a captain in 2017, played in every game for three consecutive years and twice made the Big Ten's honorable mention list. A former four-star recruit out of Norfolk, Virginia, he described his experience at Ohio State as humbling one. "It was challenging at first, but it was also rewarding," Holmes said. "You get good NFL coaching, a lot of NFL experience on the defensive staff and you form a brotherhood with a lot of people on the team."
That brotherhood, of course, includes Lewis, whose value to Ohio State was similarly overshadowed by star teammates. A two-time captain, Lewis was the Big Ten's Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2016, and the story of how he was raised by his mother in Tarboro, North Carolina, has been well-documented.
Lewis hopes he'll join a long line of Ohio State players to play at the next level. At the very least, both he and Holmes know they're ready.
"This is a privilege and honor to play here at the Senior Bowl and represent Ohio State," Lewis said. "It's just a great chance to be here and showcase your talent."
"I just want to be one of those guys who can play for a long time," Holmes added. "Making what you do your life."