A baker’s dozen outgoing USF football players had their chance to prove themselves in front of professional scouts at USF Pro Day on Friday at the Lee Roy Selmon Athletics Center and the Frank Morsani Football Complex.
Scouts from 21 professional teams, including 15 from the NFL, were on hand to conduct what is effectively an on-the-spot job interview for players looking to take the next step.
The NFL teams in attendance included the Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Canadian Football League scouts included representatives from the Calgary Stampeders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
“I had a couple of teams talk to me,” wide receiver Tyre McCants said. “NFL, some Canadian teams. I’m just open for anything. I just want to go out and play no matter where, so I’m open for anything.”
McCants also mentioned the possibility of switching positions, something former USF quarterback Quinton Flowers had to do. Flowers is now a running back for the Cincinnati Bengals.
“A lot of them (scouts), they say slot [receiver], running back, fullback. That type of stuff,” McCants said. “I’m just open for anything. Wherever they want to try me out at, as something I could do, I’ll do it to the best of my ability.”
In addition to position-specific drills, players were evaluated on their vertical and broad jumps, ability to bench press 225 pounds and their 40-yard dash times.
McCants had the best broad jump at 10 feet 2 inches, with cornerback Ronnie Hoggins checking in right behind at 10-feet-1. Defensive lineman Juwuan Brown registered the most 225-pound reps with 23, while fellow D-lineman Kevin Bronson recorded 22.
“I felt good, but during training, I was doing more than 23,” Brown said. “But, it’s all good. I’m OK with what I did.
“It’s kind of nerve-racking [doing it in front of scouts]. I just got in my zone — just talked to myself a little bit and just went to pushing.”
Most players did not know their official 40-yard dash time, though McCants did say he was in the 4.5-second range.
Despite the obvious added pressure of being evaluated on the spot, it wasn’t that unfamiliar of a day for the soon-to-be former Bulls.
“Once you get past the 40[-yard dash], it’s just back to practice to me,” defensive back Mazzi Wilkins said. “Coach Blue [Adams], my old DB coach, prepared us … it was just like coming out here to practice with a little crowd.”
While the actual activities may have just been practice, Wilkins also appreciated the milestone he reached in his life and career by participating in pro day.
“Driving here this morning, I broke a tear to see where I came,” Wilkins said. “Because I know where I came to now. Nobody would have ever thought it. It felt good, but it’s a steppingstone. I’m just trying to get better every day.”
Not only was pro day a chance for outgoing USF football players to prove to scouts that they can play at the next level, but it was also a chance for local players to prove that USF and the Tampa Bay area are legitimate.
“We kind of get overshadowed by Miami sometimes, so we always have that chip on our shoulders,” Wilkins said. “Especially when we get to college, because those guys feel like they’re the best, but we end up coming out on top.”
FULL LIST OF PRO DAY PARTICIPANTS
Outgoing USF players
DL Josh Black
DL Kevin Bronson
WR Ryeshene Bronson
DL Juwuan Brown
DB Ronnie Hoggins
DL Vincent Jackson
OL Eric Mayes
WR LaDarion McBride
WR Tyre McCants
LB Khalid McGee
DB Jaymon Thomas
K Jake Vivonetto
DB Mazzi Wilkins
Former USF Players
DB Devin Abraham
DB Tajee Fulwood
P Jonathan Hernandez
QB Vince Testaverde (Albany)