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LIer Shamar Stephen hopes to make sizable impression at NFL Combine

North defensive tackle Shamar Stephen of UConn, a

North defensive tackle Shamar Stephen of UConn, a Westbury native, runs on to the field before the Senior Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Mobile, Ala. Credit: AP / GM Andrews

INDIANAPOLIS -- For several minutes, Shamar Stephen's voice was barely audible as he sat at a small table inside Lucas Oil Stadium. But a smile soon emerged as the Westbury product began talking about the NFL defensive tackle he hopes to emulate in on-field production.

"I'd like to model myself after [the Lions' Ndamukong] Suh," said Stephen, a 6-5, 308-pound UConn product who played football and basketball for Long Island Lutheran. "Just 'cause he's so violent, so good and he's just so disruptive."

The selection of Suh might seem like an odd choice for the laid-back and seemingly reserved Stephen. But it makes perfect sense, he said, adding: "It turns on when you get on the field."

During the next few days, he'll have to convince NFL teams that he can bring that same level of intensity to the football field.

Stephen arrived late to the NFL Scouting Combine on Friday after being delayed flying from Pensacola, Fla., to Charlotte and, later, Indianapolis because of inclement weather.

Though he's projected to be a midround draft pick in May, he said he's not sure where he'll fall -- or to whom, exactly -- because he hadn't met with any of the NFL teams before addressing the media.

Stephen, who turns 23 Tuesday, will compete Monday in drills with the rest of the defensive linemen and linebackers at Lucas Oil. But unlike South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who predicted Saturday that he'll clock a 4.4-second 40-yard dash, Stephen has far more realistic goals for himself: "sub-5.0, hopefully," he said.

A Connecticut captain and team MVP in 2013, Stephen finished third on the Huskies in tackles (60, including a team-high 10 for a loss) and had three sacks. He was named to the American Athletic all-conference second team and participated in the 2014 Senior Bowl.

Though he may be raw in some areas, he's blessed with size and athleticism.

"I had some jitters coming in, but I feel good right now," he said. "I feel confident, I feel comfortable now."

Stephen, who was on the same LuHi basketball team as current Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris (Dix Hills), said he hopes to put LuHi football on the map. But in order to do so, he knows he has to stay focused on the task at hand.

"It feels good, definitely, coming from Long Island," he said. "But the job here is to focus on what's in town -- and that's the Combine -- and do as well here as possible."

Stephen said playing in the NFL has been a lifelong dream. He's determined to achieve that goal for himself and his parents. His mother is a math teacher at Hempstead High School and his father is a retired quality engineer.

"It's going to be a great feeling," he said of potentially hearing his name called during the draft. "Especially all the hard work you've done your whole life panning out. So it'll definitely be a good feeling. And hopefully that'll happen for me."


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