Pro day is over, having brought developments both good and bad for former University of New Mexico football players who aspire to play for pay.
The process, though, is just beginning.
Thursday, 13 former Lobos were put through a series of drills by scouts from three NFL teams: the Arizona Cardinals, the St. Louis Rams and the Miami Dolphins.
“There’s always room for improvement, but I’m satisfied with what we did,” said linebacker Dallas Bollema, who was timed unofficially by the Journal in 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
At the recent NFL Scouting Combine, to which no Lobo was invited, only two linebackers ran faster than 4.6. Bollema’s unofficial time in the three-cone drill (7.1) also would have ranked him in the top half among the linebackers at the combine.
Not as satisfied was running back Kasey Carrier. The Lobos’ all-time single-game and single-season rushing leader had a solid bench press (18 repetitions of 225 pounds), and the Journal timed him unofficially in 4.4 seconds on his first 40-yard dash.
On his second 40, however, Carrier pulled up short with what he described as a strained hamstring. He did not participate in the remaining drills.
Thursday will not, however, be Carrier’s last chance to impress pro scouts – provided he can loosen up that hamstring. He and Bollema plan to attend a regional combine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on March 22.
“I felt it went really good (before the injury),” Carrier said. “… I PR’d (established personal records) in a few things, so I’m excited about that.
“I have a few more chances, so it should go well.”
Center Dillon Farrell had the day’s best performance in the bench press, with 26 repetitions, and ran an unofficial time of 5.0 seconds in the 40. Offensive tackle Darryl Johnson also was clocked unofficially in 5.0, a time only five offensive linemen bettered at the combine.
Johnson also had a vertical leap measured at 30.5 inches, which would have tied for second place at the combine.
“I felt like I did great,” said Johnson, though he’d hoped to break 5 seconds in the 40.
“The fastest O-lineman ran a 4.87 (at the combine), he said, “so I wanted to get somewhere around that area.”
Like Carrier, defensive lineman Jacori Greer was hampered by injury. Ten repetitions into his bench press, he felt something pop in his chest.
A pectoral muscle, he was told, is the likely culprit.
“I felt great going in,” Greer said. “We’re just gonna rehab. I’ve got something going on in April (a Canadian Football League combine), so I’m just gonna see what’s up and if I’ll be ready to go.”
Thursday’s breakout performance might have come from Julian Lewis, a defensive back who completed his eligibility in 2012.
Mostly because of injuries, Lewis, a junior college transfer, saw little game action as a Lobo. Thursday, he had the best standing long jump (10 feet, 5 inches) and the best vertical leap (38 inches). Both marks would have ranked him in the top 10 among defensive backs at the combine.
The Journal timed Lewis unofficially at 4.5 seconds in the 40.
If Lewis lacks the Division I playing experience of an NFL prospect, he’s got the bloodlines. His father, Albert Lewis, was an All-Pro defensive back with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Of the 13 players who participated, 10 played for UNM last year: Bollema, Carrier, Farrell, Johnson, safety Dante Caro, tight end Andrew Aho, offensive guard Calvin McDowney, defensive lineman Fatu Ulale, punter Ben Skaer and kicker Justus Adams.
Skaer and Adams didn’t participate in the lifting, speed and agility drills but performed their specialties for the scouts later.
Three other participants exhausted their eligibility in 2012: Lewis, outside linebacker Joseph Harris and offensive tackle Korian Chambers.
Harris, a Colorado state triple-jump champion in high school, put up solid numbers in the standing long jump (10 feet even) and the vertical jump (35½ inches).
The standing broad jump, the bench press and the vertical jump were conducted in the UNM weight room. The remainder of the drills – the 40-yard dash, the 40-yard shuttle, the three-cone drill and the 20-yard shuttle – were done in the Indoor Practice Facility.
Steve Kazor, the Rams scout, also put the offensive linemen – Farrell, Johnson and Chambers – through several non-timed, non-measured agility and technique “eyeball” tests.
“It was a great experience,” Johnson said. “There was a lot of stuff we did, especially with the O-line drills, that I wasn’t expecting.”