NFL scouts get to witness his talent
Wide receiver Lamaar Thomas transferred from Ohio State to New Mexico, expecting to catch pass after pass after pass.
Never happened. Injuries and the Lobos’ landlocked 2012 offense limited the fleet wide receiver to 24 catches, 322 yards receiving and three touchdowns during his two-year UNM career.
Yet, the athletic talent that won him a scholarship at Ohio State, and that made him such a highly prized transfer at New Mexico, has not deserted him. It was amply put on display Thursday morning as scouts from the Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills put Thomas and 14 other former Lobo football players through a series of tests.
The ex-Lobos performed the same set of drills used by the NFL at its annual scouting combine. It’s called pro day, and Thomas hopes the name turns out to be prophetic.
“I just want my name called (in the NFL Draft, April 25-27),” Thomas said. “It’s been a dream for myself and my family this entire time. … I have high hopes, and hopefully today’s workout will help me out.”
Chances are, it did.
The former Lobos’ times, heights and distances were not disclosed, though their number of repetitions in the bench press at 225 pounds were observed by everyone. Thomas did 17 reps, a personal best that would have ranked him somewhere in the middle among the wide receivers who were invited to the NFL Combine.
Better news: Unofficially, he was timed at 4.36 seconds in the 40-yard dash — a clocking that would have been the fourth fastest among wide receivers at the combine and tied for fifth overall.
“I’m hoping it was better than that, but it sounds reasonable,” he said.
The Journal, very unofficially, clocked Thomas at 6.6 and 6.7 seconds in his two attempts at the three-cone drill, or L-Drill — an exercise designed to measure quickness, agility and ability to change direction. Either time, if accurate, would have placed him in the top five at the combine.
Later, Thomas and former UNM tight end Lucas Reed ran pass routes and caught passes thrown by ex-Lobo quarterback B.R. Holbrook. Thomas dropped nary a one.
“Today was an important day for me,” Thomas said. “It’s what I’ve been working for these past two months, and I came out here just to show what I can do.”
Reed, like Thomas, was more blocker than receiver last season for UNM. A 2010 All-Mountain West Conference choice at tight end, he caught just five passes for 37 yards and no touchdowns as a senior.
Unlike Thomas, however, Reed benefited from playing and practicing in front of NFL scouts at the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 19. The former Lobo caught only one pass for 3 yards in the game, but said he caught dozens of balls without a drop during practices.
“There were about 300 scouts there watching (practices),” he said. “They really just want to see if you’re a good football player. These drills we ran today are second to what you can do on the field.”
Even so, Reed felt he had a productive pro day. His vertical leap was measured at 37 inches, a half-inch below the best by a tight end at the combine.
The Journal timed Reed at 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash and 6.9 in the L-drill, both of which would have ranked among the top combine efforts at his position.
If there was a major surprise at UNM’s pro day, it was the identity of the No. 1 performer in the bench press: long snapper Evan Jacobsen, who pressed 225 pounds 27 times — edging defensive lineman Reggie Ellis by one repetition.
Long snappers are called on to block and occasionally tackle, as well, and Jacobsen said he takes pride in his strength.
“I try to push myself,” he said. “… I do a lot of stuff to keep my strength, because it’s my biggest advantage.”
Perhaps the most eye-catching performance was that of kicker Greg Rivara, who was the Lobos’ kickoff specialist last season but never attempted a field goal.
Thursday, observed by Cardinals scouting assistant Josh Scobey, the former St. Pius Sartan drilled several field goals of 55 yards and then hit one from 60.
Before the 2012 season, coach Bob Davie said he might use Rivara on field-goal attempts of 40 yards or more. But the Lobos attempted only two field goals beyond 40 yards, both by Justus Adams.
Rivara, who transferred to UNM from New Mexico Highlands as a walk-on, said he was proud of his contributions on kickoffs, using the strong right leg that was in evidence Thursday.
“I was happy to be able to play,” he said. “Coach Davie gave me an opportunity, and I took it.”
If he keeps kicking 60-yard field goals in front of NFL scouts, other opportunities might arise.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal