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Former Bulls attempt to impress NFL scouts during Pro Day

Former offensive lineman Brad Cecil (74) finished his USF career with 53 games played and 50 starts, tying for second all-time records in both categories. ORACLE PHOTO/HANNAH HALILI

When the nerves finally subsided after getting combine tested at the Indoor Performance Facility on Wednesday, former offensive lineman Brad Cecil could finally take a breath of relief.

“To be honest with you, I didn’t sleep at all last night,” Cecil said. 

Cecil is one of nine former USF football players hoping someone from the 28 NFL teams present at Pro Day will give them a chance as the NFL draft approaches on April 27. 

South Florida’s day started at 9:15 a.m. with measurements. Players then went into the bench pressing 225 pounds, running the 40-yard dash, short shuttles, three-cone drills and position drills. 

The NFL International Player Pathway Program saw 13 players join the Bulls on Wednesday. They were invited by Associate Athletic Director Andrew Warsaw, who worked for the NFL as director of game operations from 2016 to 2017. 

Cecil said for 10 weeks he trained Monday through Saturday, with Sunday saved for an active recovery day. His daily routine consisted of waking up at around 7 a.m. and getting to his training facility. 

He then continued with warming up, receiving treatment, lifting, a speed and conditioning workout, an offensive line workout, yoga and finishing with additional training. 

While the training process required a lot of commitment and discipline, Cecil said he still took it all in because it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. 

“Everything I did was for this day. What time I went to sleep, what I ate, how often I stretched and not doing things on the weekend that my friends are doing,” Cecil said. “It’s missing out and sacrificing for the bigger picture which is obviously Pro Day.”

Most players have worked their entire life for the chance to be seen by an NFL scout. Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles and 33 scouts showed up on Wednesday to check out the prospects. 

Former offensive lineman Demetris Harris said he has been anticipating his own Pro Day, and reality finally set in for him Tuesday night. Not only did he go through years of little league and high school football, but he had to wait six years in college for the chance to show his skills because of COVID-19.

Harris was joined by his parents and girlfriend who cheered him on from the sideline. Harris said having his loved ones there pushed him to work harder, and he thinks he impressed some scouts.

“I didn’t get much sleep last night, just the nerves and everything,” Harris said. “But once I got here and once I got back in my element, it was just football at the end of the day. And that’s what I’m great at.”

Current USF players and coaches also lined the side of the Indoor Performance Facility to encourage the 13 alumni. Former linebacker Dwayne Boyles said it was a great opportunity to finish his journey with his teammates, who he considers “brothers.” 

When Boyles took the podium after his final game against UCF, he said wanted to be remembered as a football player who left everything on the field. On Wednesday, he said he did just that. 

“I was just worried about putting on the best performance that I can,” Boyles said. “I don’t really care who’s watching. It could be one scout, it could be all 32 teams. It doesn’t really matter.” 

“To be here is a blessing. I just thank God, he’s the one I’ve been praying to about this. I appreciate this opportunity to come out here and put on for the city.”