Under the bright lights of the Marquardt Field House, 10 former members of the Weber State University football team took part in the team’s pro day. The open job interview featured four defensive linemen, two cornerbacks, two tight ends, one punter and one quarterback showcasing their athletic abilities for 30 professional scouts.
There were scouts from 29 NFL teams and one CFL team, the British Columbia Lions. Scouts from high in the draft teams, like the Cleveland Browns and the New York Giants, as well as both teams from Super Bowl 52, the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, all attended to watch the Wildcats.
This is the third year Weber State has hosted a Pro day, with the number of scouts increasing with each passing season. While a bulk of the workouts were done on the practice field, the players started in the weight room.
The first drill done was the bench press, where scouts measure how many times a player can bench press 225 pounds.
Only six Wildcats did the bench press. Defensive tackle Rayshawn Henderson leading the pack with 30 reps. Two of the other defensive lineman, Cardon Malan and McKay Murphy, each had 24 reps. Murphy only stopped because of a pectoral strain he felt on the 23rd rep.
Murphy said, “I hit 23, and I felt my chest tighten up a little bit, and I thought maybe it’s just tight, just gotta work through it, so I did one more, and it’s just a strain, but I felt it. I knew if I was going to keep going it was going to affect the rest of my day.”
While the injury did not affect the rest of his day, it prevented him from overtaking Henderson’s bench press reps.
Henderson said, “My goal was to try to beat Murph, even though that’s my boy. I tried to beat Murph, either keep up with him or surpass him. I’m blessed with the opportunity to get 30.”
The players were then put through four measurable tests, starting with the vertical leap. Only eight of the ten players participated in the drills, with punter Jacob DeMaio and cornerback Taron Johnson opting out for different reasons.
DeMaio had to wait until after the Pro Day ended before he, and the legion of scouts, went to Stewart Stadium, so he could punt in the open air. Johnson declined to do these drills after having already completed them at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Johnson said, “I felt like I did do good enough for the things that I did do at the Combine, and some of the stuff I redid just because I didn’t think my numbers were good enough.”
While Johnson was the only member of the Weber State team invited to Indianapolis, he was not the only one who already had a chance to show off for NFL teams. Tight end Andrew Vollert had the chance to make himself known to professional teams at the East-West Shrine Game.
Vollert said, “I think that whole week of practice was good for me, showing the scouts I can play in the box which I know is my biggest weakness.”
After the measurable drills were done, the different scouts were forced to show their hands in who they had interest in. They then had the opportunity to put select players in drills unique to their positions.
Johnson and Xequille Harry were first, being lined up in the center of the field and placed in different drills to test their quickness as cornerbacks, not just around cones.
After they had finished, the field was dominated by the offense. Quarterback Stefan Cantwell was given the chance to pass to his tight ends 20 times, 10 routes for Vollert and Tui Satuala.
After those three finished their drills, they were able to talk with scouts and their family members in attendance, giving the defensive lineman a final chance to showcase their moves.
Once the scouts had their fill of swim moves and line work the day was done, it left the players to look ahead to the NFL Draft and to the rest of their lives.
Henderson said, “Whatever happens I’m blessed and I’m happy. I got a degree out of this, so, at the end of the day, I’m happy.”