Byron Pringle looked at his phone and smiled.
This was early Tuesday morning, just hours before the first practice of Senior Bowl week was set to commence, and Pringle — a star receiver at Kansas State — was lying in his hotel bed, receiving all the motivation he’d need to go out and shine. On the other end of the phone was Pringle’s 2-year-old son, Bryson, who was on his way to day care in Tampa, Fla.
By the time the video call was over, Pringle was ready to crush it this week.
“It woke me up man, helped me start my day off real great,” Pringle said. “To hear him say ‘Daddy’ all the time, it reminded me I’ve got someone to provide for.”
Pringle declared for the draft after a junior campaign in which he caught 30 passes for 724 yards and six touchdowns. His raw stats were average and he had another year of eligibility, but at 24 years old, he’s close to being overaged as a draft prospect, so he knew this was the ideal time to leave.
“Teams don’t want an old man coming on their team,” Pringle said with a laugh.
Regardless, Pringle’s size — he checked in a 6 feet 1, 201 pounds on Tuesday — and his eye-popping 24.1 yards-per-catch average this season was enough to catch the eye of Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage, a former NFL general manager who figured NFL teams would be interesting in getting a closer look at Pringle.
“He’s a bigger receiver; he’s got some vertical speed, he’s got the size to go inside and make a catch,” Savage said. “His production was limited in numbers, in terms of receptions, but high in average per catch. So he made some big plays for K-State, and this is a huge opportunity for him to display his physical talent.”
Pringle knows that, too. He grew up watching the Senior Bowl game, which takes place at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, and is eager to prove he can — in his own words — compete with the best talent in the country on the college level.
“I’m here to play, man,” Pringle said. “Bring it, be physical, show my speed. I can play all phases — special teams, receiver, returner, plus I’m a positive guy.”
It will be important for Pringle to show the latter is particularly true. He has a criminal record, thanks to a series of crimes he committed as a teenager, ranging from burglary, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and grand theft, but he served four years probation and 100 hours of community service before landing at Butler Community College, where he eventually earned a scholarship offer from K-State and has managed to stay out of trouble.
Teams will likely quiz Pringle about his past all week long, and Savage said how he fares in those interviews will be important to where teams decide to slot him on their draft boards.
“He was an underclassman that was ruled eligible by the league, so I don’t know people have a thick book on him right now,” Savage said. “This is, again, a big opportunity for him to set the narrative for who he is as a person and what the next few months hold.”
Pringle is confident teams have nothing to worry about. As if his 2-year-old son isn’t motivation enough, he has another son — Byron Jr. — set to be born in April, so he feels responsible for the getting the most out of his athletic gifts so he can create a better life for all who rely on him.
Pringle knows that how he performs this week will go a long way to helping him do just that.
“I can provide a life for my family, my son, my girlfriend, my other son that’s on the way, and raise them in a great community,” Pringle said. “I just want to be a good father.”