He didn't break any rules, and that made Marcel Jensen proud.
The Fresno State tight end met with an NFL agent over dinner and couldn't wait to tell his father about their talk and his potential future after college.
"It's kind of flattering, kind of exciting," Jensen said of meeting with agents. "Everyone wants to play in the NFL. These guys could help you get there. I know what I can and can't do around these guys.
"But I know where my focus needs to be. Because if I go out there and don't perform, the phone's going to stop ringing, no one's going to want to talk to me."
Despite the perception that agents and amateur athletes shouldn't mix, NCAA rules don't prohibit the two sides from meeting before a player exhausts his eligibility. They do bar student-athletes and their families from accepting any type of benefits.
Some schools and conferences have policies that limit contact. But for the most part, it's up to each player to choose how the interactions take place.
Jensen is considered the eighth-best tight end prospect in next year's draft by NFLDraftScout.com. And he is one of the few Fresno State players who have taken an active approach to getting to know agents.
Having spoken to about 10 since the summer (some through his father), Jensen said they all pretty much say the same things. What Jensen was most excited to share with his father about this one meeting, though, was not how it went — but how it ended.
"I paid for myself," Jensen said.
Under NCAA rules, even having a dinner bought by an agent could jeopardize a player's eligibility.
Mark Jensen warned his son several times to be careful. Don't accept gifts; don't let things get too personal; but be respectful and listen.
After hearing from his son about this meeting, Mark Jensen offered something else Marcel took to heart.
"Going out to eat in public with an agent, just isn't a good look," Mark Jensen said. "People might notice, think things, take things the wrong way. Maybe they think the agent paid for you. That wasn't the case at all. But you don't want any of that (junk) following you.
"I told Marcel he needs to be aware of perception as much as the rules."
The difficulty of keeping up with NCAA rules on what is and isn't allowed is among the reasons most players simply avoid contact until their college careers are over.
Fresno State star Derek Carr, considered the seventh-best quarterback prospect and 45th overall by NFLDraftScout.com, said he has politely told all agents not to bother him or his family until after he plays his final game as a Bulldog.
"If they can't respect my wishes and still call me or my family in-season, I'm scratching their name off my list," Carr said in August. "All I want to be focusing on during this season is winning and doing what's best for this team. The other stuff can wait."
Some agents also believe it's probably best for players to wait, though the competitive nature of the business makes that difficult.
"If you're in the biz and you wait until after the season, you won't get clients," said Jill Baxter, an agent whose husband, John, was a Bulldogs assistant from 1997-2009. Her father, Ron McBride, was the longtime coach at Utah.
"I've done it both ways," she said. "Some (agents) think it's important to build a rapport early, try to be the first.
"Personally, I think (players) should wait until they're done. I don't see any benefit. Let them just focus on college and education. But when you're dealing with 18- to 22-year-old males who've had success most of their life playing football and they want to play in the NFL, and you need an agent to get through the process, I think egos can get involved. And players will talk."
Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter said he leaves it up to players, but would prefer they wait.
Seniors and select underclassmen with NFL potential were to meet today with Associate Athletic Director for Intercollegiate Services Steve Robertello, who heads compliance, to go over the do's and don'ts.
"There's going to be agents that try to approach them," DeRuyter said. "But right now, all they can do is get you in trouble, put them in a bad light.
"The unscrupulous ones, they're going to try to put their hooks in you. They don't care if it's going to put your eligibility at risk. We just got to make sure our guys realize that there's plenty of time to get representation after the season."
Robertello said things that might seem minor could be harmful if players aren't fully aware of the rules. Entering even a verbal agreement before an athlete's eligibility is exhausted is a violation.
"We need to have constant education and discussions with our players to make sure they know what's going on," Robertello said.
Turning down offers to meet with agents can be tough. They are persistent.
Left tackle Austin Wentworth, projected among the top 175 NFL prospects, said he started getting calls during the offseason — some within days of last year's season-ending Hawaii Bowl. They keep coming.
"It's kind of funny," Wentworth said in an offseason interview. "You start getting phone calls from numbers you've never seen before. And when you find out it's an agent, you're mostly thinking, 'How did they get my number?' "
Jensen, too, said he's received random calls.
"I'm the type that never answers the phone when I don't recognize the number," Jensen said. "I check the voicemail, and sure enough, it's an agent."
Jensen said he's also received friend requests from agents on Facebook, as well as texts and emails. He declines their requests and no longer answers their calls.
He said he has begun to limit his communication with agents to email. His father now handles most of the meetings or calls.
Jensen said he realized he needed to cut back after two agents showed up at last month's Boise State game and wanted to talk afterward.
"It's kind of awkward," Jensen said. "It's kind of like having two chicks who you're talking to show up at the same place at the same time. I know it's part of the business. But it was definitely awkward."
Jensen said most just want to introduce themselves and talk about their company and services they can provide. Jensen said he hasn't received any direct pitches for representation.
"I don't want to worry about that stuff right now, anyway," Jensen said.
"My main focus right now is to put things on tape. I'm not playing for the agents. I'm playing for myself, my family and for my team."
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6362, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Banteola_TheBee on Twitter.