Pro Day: Another step towards the NFL

By: Sydnie Grossnickle

Staff Writer

Eight Tarleton State University football alumni took the leap to reach their dream of pursuing professional football during Pro Day on March 25. 

The athletes who participated in Pro Day were Tariq Bitson, Benjamin (Benjie) Franklin, Devin Hafford, Tre Johnson, John (Jayy) McDonald Jr., Ryheem Skinner, Ronell Wilson and Jonathon Uland. 

“The purpose of the event is for college football players to undergo various testing and showcase their skills via individual drills in front of talent evaluators,” Fox Sports said.

The Texans put their best foot forward to showcase their abilities to three scouts from the Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys. Athletes get more personal experience at Pro Day compared to the NFL Combine. 

Their day started in the weight room with measurements and two drills. The scouts took their height, weight, wingspan and hand measurements. 

The first event was the bench press to test the strength of the athletes. The scouts see how many repetitions the participants can do of 225 pounds. 

The weight room was not silent. With each rep, the room filled with fellow participants, Tarleton athletics staff and teammates cheering loudly for them.  

Hafford, a defensive back, did 24 reps. Linebacker Wilson was right behind him with 23. 

They moved to the vertical jump to test how high they could jump. This event shows the power of their lower body.

Hafford had an incredible leap of 38 inches. Fellow defensive back Franklin had a jump of 33.5 inches. 

The Texans moved to their comfort spot, the Memorial Stadium field, for more drills. The next events were the broad jump, 40-yard dash, three-cone drill, shuttle run and position-specific exercises. 

The broad jump is another drill that shows lower body strength. Defensive back Johnson had a leap of 10’ 4”. Wilson jumped 9’ 7” on his second attempt.

“It’s been a grind, Monday through Saturday with one day of recovery,” Johnson said. “[I’ve been] going hard at it, working on my jumps, working on my speed. You know, it’s been a grind, but it definitely paid off today.” 

Texans setting up for the 40-yard dash.
Photo by: Sydnie Grossnickle

The 40-yard dash is where the Texans get to show off their speed. Franklin clocked in at 4.31 seconds. Hafford and Bitson finished with a time of 4.55 seconds. 

“Mainly in my 40-yard dash, [I’ve been] working on the start of it, the first ten [yards],” Hafford said. “Just making sure I say low on my drive and just have a solid run overall.”

The three-cone drill and shuttle run test the athletes’ acceleration. They got to show off their skills in the position-specific drills. 

Uland completed drills as the lone deep snapper for this Pro Day class. Bitson, McDonald and Skinner participated in wide-receiver exercises. Hafford, Johnson and Wilson completed defensive drills to finish out the day. 

The Texans had a great support system cheering them on for every drill throughout the day. 

“I feel like I did well, I got to watch a ton of my teammates do well,” Wilson said. “You can tell they’ve been working; I’ve been working. The dudes behind you train and support me really well.”

The NFL Draft took place from April 28-30 in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

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