Carlton Mitchell's ride to the airport in Fort Lauderdale was scheduled to pick him up at 4:30 this morning.

Like more than 300 others, the South Florida wide receiver is headed to Indy for several days of testing, poking, prodding and interviewing at the NFL combine.

And he's taking us along for the ride.

Over the next couple months, we'll talk to Mitchell weekly and get insight about what the process is like for a prospect trying to get a shot at the next level.

"I was nervous at first," said Mitchell, who is skipping his senior year to go pro. "Before I declared, I was a wreck, losing weight. I didn't know what to do. This is the biggest day of my life. I know I'll be ready for it."

Mitchell is listed at 6-foot-4, although he wouldn't be surprised if the official number came in an inch shorter in Indy. He set a USF record for receiving yards in a single season last year and proved to have the speed to be a big-play threat, averaging 17.6 yards per reception.

Mitchell is confident in his abilities, but fully aware of the wide receiver "me-first" stereotype.

"I'm able to do anything anyone else can," he told me, before pausing for a moment. "I mean that in the most humble and most respectful way. I never back down from a challenge. I want to be the guy everyone is turning to. I live off that - helping the team and pleasing my coaches."

Like many other prospects, Mitchell has spent the last six or seven weeks preparing for the combine, and for the NFL. He's been in North Miami, training with Pete Bommarito.

What does that entail? Waking up at 6 a.m. and working on his 40 time, his bench and practicing the other tests so that when the spotlight's on in Indy, everything feels routine.

Mitchell has a goal for the 40 in his head but does not want to reveal it during our interview. Superstitious, perhaps.

He said he needs to work on catching the ball away from his frame, coming out of his routes and positioning himself better on blocks.

"I'm still fine tuning a lot of things," he said. "I don't think I'll ever say I made it."

One thing fans don't always realize about the combine is that it's a lot of interviewing and meeting with coaches and personnel people. Not just on-the-field testing.

Mitchell, who describes his favorite activities as watching cartoons (Tom & Jerry is one of his favorites), fishing and taking care of his pet iguana (Iggy Godzilla Mitchell), thinks he'll excel in that aspect of the testing.

"My main goal is for the GMs and coaches to get to know me," he said. "I believe my interviews are going to go really well. I'm a people person. I love talking to people. I'm open to everyone. I'm willing to open up to people about my past."

So if you're taking in the action on NFL Network, keep an eye out for WO34, which is the tag that'll be on Mitchell's back during workouts.

We'll catch up with him again next week to find out how he did.

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