The overcast skies rippled and allowed water to trickle down over Paulson Stadium as a group of senior Eagle football players gave their last bit of effort on that field for a chance to be noticed by the scouts.
While every athlete has a chance of being noticed at Pro Day, scouts come with a list of players that they are to keep a keen eye on. At the top of the list sits linebacker Edwin Jackson and offensive lineman Garret Frye. Both athletes were representatives in the Medal of Honor All-Star game following the season.
Family, friends and media watched from the field and from the Ted Smith Football Center as the athletes took the field first for the 40-yard dash. As I stepped onto the green of the football field I could feel how the slippery grass could be a problem. The first run was partially against the wind and each runner seemed to be sure of their feet.
The same could be said for the second run with the help from the wind as each Eagle ran, quite possibly, the most important 40 yards of their lives. Standing at the finish line was a handful of professional scouts. This included representatives from the Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and the CFL British Columbia Lions.
After their sprints were completed the athletes moved up to the small turf field, normally graced by children on game days, and completed the L-Drill and the 5-10-5 shuttle run. Things got hairy for the Eagles at this stage as the effects of the weather began to take their toll. Players slipped and skidded on drills. Those who did not slip seemed to be over compensating and appeared flat footed coming out of their cuts.
The departing seniors then entered the weight room in the Ted Smith Center for the final three official events. Head coach Willie Fritz hovered around his former players as they competed for a chance of a lifetime. The vertical jump and the broad jump were up next.
The players had been split off into two groups. Jackson lined up for his broad jump, sized up the jump and leapt forward landing on both feet in a similar position but 9’10” away from his starting spot. The spotter placed a pen in the spot as Jackson took his second jump. He squatted down and launched from his stance and managed a very impressive 10 foot broad jump and let out a roar of excitement.
The last event in the weight room was the bench press. Athletes are meant to get under the bar and press 225 pounds as many times as possible. Each athlete walked up to one of two stations, laid down and began their test. Jackson, hyped after his broad jump got under the bar and gave the best performance of his former teammates. When he finally racked his weight, he had completed a staggering 30 repetitions which definitely raised some eyebrows.
For the final portion the athletes moved back outside for some drills to show their football talents. The lineman went to 1V1 drills while the skill players moved to a more wide open approach. Another familiar face was seen as Ezayi YouYoute, who helped quarterback the team to a Sun Belt Championship, threw passes to the skill players. His passes were tight but the conditions made it difficult for the athletes to build up speed.
No real breakdowns can be made until the official numbers are released. All-in-all the athletes looked impressive given the circumstances and there is definitely NFL potential. While the team does lack in some areas such as size and blazing speed, there is late round potential and surely players that could make a difference on special teams in the pros. Check for The George-Anne to deliver updates via Twitter or Thursday’s edition for official times and results.