BC's Tennant thinking big at combine

INDIANAPOLIS -- When Boston College center Matt Tennant arrived in the media workroom Friday at the NFL combine, the first question he was asked was his weight. The answer, 300 pounds, was significant.

"I didn't want to be the lone offensive lineman to weigh in at sub-300," he said. "Some teams say it's important for you to be 300, other teams don't. But I'd rather be 300 and have to lose weight, because I think it's a little bit easier for me. It's not really that big a deal. I've played at 280 before and been successful, and I can play at 300."

If there is a top concern among NFL teams about Tennant, this year's top prospect from BC, it is his physical makeup. That's why he came to the combine with hitting the 300-pound mark as one goal, and also wanted to exhibit his strength.

He had 27 repetitions on the bench press (225 pounds) Friday, which he deemed a "solid number for a center" but still short of what he hoped (he might do the bench press again at BC's pro day in March). He is scheduled to run the 40-yard dash and go through position drills Saturday.

The engaging Tennant has also met with several NFL teams, and that's an area in which he figures to impress. He showed his sense of humor with reporters when asked how his past elbow injuries -- he had Tommy John surgery on his left elbow in December 2008 and the same procedure on his right elbow in 2004 -- might affect his performance.

"I can pitch, I have a great fastball now," he joked, before turning serious and noting he's had no problems and "they both feel great and I have full strength." He started every game over his last three years.

Tennant, who is from Cincinnati, played mostly center at BC but also lined up at guard in Senior Bowl practices. In a year that is considered weak for interior offensive linemen, he could possibly be drafted as high as the second round.

Tennant said he has talked with former BC lineman Jeremy Trueblood, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, about what to expect in the pre-draft process. He added that he has tried to model his style of play after Trueblood.

That is part of the reason Tennant decided to attend BC, to follow in the NFL footsteps of players like him.

"When I was first thinking of going to BC, I looked and it was like 'Wow, there's a history of sending great linemen to the league,'" he said. "That was something I envisioned. You get to BC, you see what the older guys are doing, what they learned from the older guys before them. It's just a big circle."

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.