INDIANAPOLIS — Shaun Bradley was getting settled in his room ahead of the NFL scouting combine earlier this week when his roommate walked in.
The Temple linebacker was pleasantly surprised to see another Temple linebacker.
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Chapelle Russell, his college teammate and one of four Owls participating in the combine, would be sharing a space with him for the week.
The two spent the last three seasons sharing the field. Last year, they both earned single-digit numbers, which are reserved for the players who embody Temple the best.
“I wasn’t sure if we were going to be roommates,” Bradley said Thursday. “He walked in [the room] and I thought, ‘Oh, this is perfect.' ”
Bradley said he was grateful for the familiarity during the hectic week. The two linebackers from South Jersey are both trying to improve their draft stock through the combine. Bradley had 87 tackles, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery last season. Russell had 72 stops and nine tackles for losses.
The two shared leadership responsibilities at Temple and are close off the field. But that hasn’t stopped them from engaging in some friendly banter about who will perform best Saturday in the linebacker drills, particularly the 40-yard dash.
“We sit in the room and talk trash about who’s going to win the 40, who’s going to be the fastest,” Bradley said. “We do that all day, it’s nonstop. We’ll joke around and talk about something, and then as soon as one thing hits, he’ll be like ‘I’m about to run a faster 40 than you’ and I’m like, ‘No, you’re not.’ "
Leading into the combine, Russell trained in San Diego, while Bradley worked out in Phoenix. The two were separated by state borders, but that didn’t stop them from shooting each other texts to compare their times.
“We’ve always been kind of a similar player as far as speed and strength and explosiveness,” Russell said. “We always compare each other’s numbers and things like that, just to see where we’re at.”
Unsurprisingly, Russell said he thinks he’ll have the edge. But based on the information the two have about each other’s progress, both expect their times to be close.
Russell has more incentive to run a good time outside of the competition with his friend, though. The 6-foot-1, 230-pound backer said his speed has come up a lot in his meetings with NFL teams. He’s eager to prove that he’s faster than some teams have predicted he’ll be.
He’s also aware of how many linebackers are ranked ahead of him and Bradley by the analysts.
“I don’t know if I can say we’re overlooked now because we’re in this position, but compared to a lot of the other guys out here I feel like our name has kind of been lurking a little lower than theirs,” Russell said. “I feel like when we go out there on Saturday, we’re going to prove a lot of people wrong.”
Russell said he has met with the Eagles, who are noticeably thin at linebacker after releasing Nigel Bradham earlier this month.