A total of 28 NFL teams sent scouts and/or coaches to Oklahoma’s Pro Day at the Everest Training Center on Wednesday. Carolina, Chicago, St. Louis and Tampa Bay were the only clubs not attending.
Notable former NFL players in attendance included Pro Bowlers Roy Williams, Aaron Glenn and Jeff Garcia as 17 members of the 2013 Sooners worked out. In addition, several other former OU players participated, including RB Dominique Whaley and QB Drew Allen (who played at Syracuse in 2013). In addition, former Norman North High School standout and Ohio University graduate, FB Beau Blankenship, worked out at the event.
By the Numbers
In NFL vernacular, “measurables” are one of the most important items to be cleaned from on-campus workouts, since the majority of the participants weren’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. Here is a quick recap of some of the Sooner superlatives.
|OU Pro Day Superlatives|
|Vertical Jump||Dominique Whaley||37.125”|
|Broad Jump||Jaz Reynolds||10’5”|
|40-Yard Dash||Roy Finch||4.44|
|20-Yard Shuttle||Brennan Clay||4.21|
|Three-Cone Drill||Roy Finch||7.14|
|60-Yard Shuttle||Brennan Clay||11.33|
|Bench Press||Bronson Irwin||30 reps|
Corey Nelson Goes Full Speed
While LB Corey Nelson was off to a great start to the 2013 campaign, a torn pectoral muscle against TCU prematurely ended his OU career. Fortunately, Nelson was able to fully participate in Pro Day, knocking off 23 reps on the bench press.
“Everything felt great,” the Dallas native said relative to his performance. “No pain, all strength. It’s just an amazing feeling to be able to come out there and have the strength that I had at the beginning of the season….I got to show the scouts that my strength is back and my torn (pectoral) won’t be a problem.”
Like several of his other teammates who are coming off injuries, Nelson cited his faith as a factor that has helped him remain upbeat in the face of adversity.
“Just keeping my faith in God and just remaining positive in all aspects, staying positive no matter what the outcome is, because you create your own happiness and that’s the type of mindset I have. That’s the type of persona I’ve taken on and it’s allowed me to remain positive no matter what the outcome is.”
Rehab Reports on Millard, Colvin
FB Trey Millard suffered a season-ending knee injury against Texas Tech last season. Although he wasn’t able to participate in Pro Day, he’s making steady progress toward his goal of playing in the NFL.
“I’m running pretty confidently,” Millard related. “The next step is kind of changing direction. Right now, I’m just running straight, but I’m doing well with it. It’s encouraging. There’s still a lot of interest (from NFL teams). Unfortunately, I’m not able to really do anything here, but there’s quite a bit of film from over the years, so hopefully that speaks for itself.
“It’s a dream come true,” the two-time OU captain said of playing professionally. “You only get one chance. Unfortunately, it’s not the circumstance I dreamed of it as, but I’m still here and there’s still interest. All I need is a shot.”
Another Sooner standout recouping from a knee injury is CB Aaron Colvin, who suffered a torn ACL during practice at the Senior Bowl.
“I’m feeling great,” Colvin smiled at Pro Day. “I’m ahead of schedule. I’m in the pool doing things - running, doing a bunch of different exercises. I’m scheduled to run April 20 or April 23. Everything’s going great; they’re taking good care of me. I’m doing squats, I’m doing leg presses so it’s going good.”
Like Millard, Colvin was likewise disappointed that he wasn’t able to work out on Pro Day, but remained optimistic about his NFL prospects.
“Everybody’s still contacting me, everybody’s still interested, so that’s a good thing. There’s still going to be some teams that drop me because of the injury, but all you need is one team – that’s how I’m looking at it. As far as what everyone is telling me, not too much has changed, (the scouts) still see me as a great player. They think my film is great – that’s what I keep hearing. Unfortunately I couldn’t come out here and test and do some of the things that I really wanted to do to show guys what kind of athlete I am but I just really have to rely on my film right now.”
Pro Bowl QB Jeff Garcia Makes First Visit to Norman
Four-time Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia didn’t have an easy road to the NFL. Undrafted out of San Jose State, Garcia began his professional football career with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League in 1994. Following the conclusion of his 18-year professional playing career, Garcia has begun the process of mentoring aspiring players, many of whom may go undrafted like himself.
Garcia has worked with ex-Sooners QB Drew Allen and WR Lacoltan Bester in recent weeks and was present at Pro Day today.
“I enjoy working with young athletes, young football players, young quarterbacks, mentoring them, inspiring them to bring out greatness in themselves,” he said. “Not just on the football field, but life, off the field, as well. I think everything we do on the field teaches them, coaches them up on how to be a better person off the field. If they can take that work ethic, that commitment, that drive, all those things that they put in to the game and apply it in to their everyday lives and just live that way, it gives them a chance.
“I’m a prime example of a guy who wasn’t fed a silver spoon,” he continued. “I had to work for it. I had to go up to Canada. I had to prove myself. That came after a pretty successful collegiate career. I understand what it’s like to have to deal with adversity, to fight through it, to be a fighter in life, to battle, to bring your best every single day.
“That’s what I coach my nine-year-olds up on and that’s what I coach my 25-year-olds up on. It doesn’t change. If you want to be the best in life, it all has to start from within. You can only be as good as you want to be, as much as you’re willing to put in to it. Nobody else can put a ceiling on you, that’s up to you. Blast through those ceilings, climb that mountain. When you get to the top, look for the next-highest mountain.”
For a guy who grew up in California, played professionally everywhere from Canada to Cleveland, you might think Garcia’s OU IQ might not be that high. You’d be wrong.
“Believe me, I was very aware of Oklahoma football, especially growing up and seeing guys like Jamelle Holieway, Keith Jackson, Billy Sims and Barry Switzer, obviously,” Garcia laughed. “Watching those guys, the great rivalry games against Nebraska – they were always right around Thanksgiving – those were games that, even on the West Coast in California, we looked forward to watching because those were two of the best programs in the country, battling, going up against each other, some tremendous players that came through Oklahoma.”
Garcia spent time chatting with head coach Bob Stoops, as well as other members of the OU offensive staff, including Josh Heupel and Cale Gundy. He also expressed his admiration of Oklahoma’s ability to recruit and develop successful players from California like Kenny Stills, Jalen Saunders, Brennan Clay and fellow Pro Bowler Roy Williams, who also was on hand Wednesday.
“Talking to Coach Stoops, seeing the longevity that he’s had here and how rare that is in sports today: college, pro, anywhere. To have the length of time he’s had here and the success he’s been able to continue to build on with this program is pretty incredible.”
While the current crop of OU pro hopefuls will have to wait until May’s NFL Draft to see what opportunities may present themselves, the present Sooner squad will return to the practice field on Thursday.