BYU holds Pro Day

BYU's facilities were packed with family members, friends and former Cougars cheering on and showing support for eight senior Cougars on Wednesday. Eight Cougar NFL hopefuls performed various drills to test different athletic abilities while being timed and under the critical eye of many NFL scouts. There were even some whisperings that Eagles head coach Andy Reid was on campus.

The first stop for Pro Day was the weight room, where Vic So'oto, Andrew Rich, Jason Speredon, Brandon Bradley, Brian Logan, Luke Ashworth, Zeke Mendenhall and Mitch Payne were tested in the bench press and vertical jump. Former cornerback Tico Pringle, who transferred from BYU to SUU, was also present for Pro Day testing.

The Cougars were also tested in the vertical jump, and 5-foot-6-inch Brian Logan recorded highest performance at 37.5 inches. Fellow cornerback Brandon Bradley was next at 34.5 inches, followed by safety Andrew Rich at 34 inches. Receiver Luke Ashworth turned in the next best performance at 33.5 inches, followed by defensive end Vic So'oto at 32 inches.

The most impressive bench press performance of the group was So'oto, who put up 225 pounds 35 times. Offensive lineman Jason Speredon did 25 reps, Rich did 16, Bradley and Payne did 11, Ashworth did 10, and Logan and linebacker Zeke Mendenhall did nine.

"I put 35 up on the bench and that's a little lower than what I've done in the past," said So'oto. "I came out here and did what I had to do. I worked out with a trainer, Dave Stroshine, and hopefully surprised some guys."

After being tested in the bench press, the group headed to the indoor practice facility. Small yellow cones were put in place for the forty-yard dash and many other drills. Again, the 6-foot-3-inch, 261-pound So'oto turned in the most impressive performance given his size.

"I did run a 4.5 in the forty, so that was good," So'oto said. "I didn't get any times in the L-cone or shuttle and slipped a couple of times. For the position drills, they don't expect d-ends to move like that, but then again I'm not really a d-end, I'm an athlete."

Logan turned in a good forty time, but it wasn't as fast as he would have liked.

"I came out here and gave it my all," he said. "I'm really happy with my overall times and performance. Well, my forty, a lot of people have clocked me at a low 4.4, but the NFL scouts said that they stop the clock when your hips cross the line. So that took about a tenth of a second off. I was clocked today at a 4.55, and I'm kind of disappointed because coming in at 5'6", I need to run in the 4.4 range."

Although he felt he turned in a good performance overall, Bradley wished he had done a little better in his forty time.

"Overall I feel like I did really well," Bradley said. "I felt like I improved on some performances out here today. I don't know what my time was in the forty, but I don't feel like I did that great. You know, overall I felt like I did good, but I guess we'll have to see what happens next time."

Following the forty testing, the players were tested in the shuttle drills, L-cone, standing broad jump, and other drills to show overall athleticism.

"The purpose is to show your explosiveness and speed," Bradley said. "It's to show your movement, your lateral movement, hype flexibility and all those things that make you a good football player. I mean, those things don't necessarily decide if you're going to be a good football player, but those are some of the things the scouts want to see in sort of a 'We want to find out about you' sort of thing. They test you in those things to see if you can do it."

There's more to what the scouts are looking for than just speed and quickness. They want to see how fast a drill can be performed while maintaining body control and technique.

"At first I thought the drills were meant to show your agility and things like that," Logan said. "As I've learned more and more about this today, especially in hearing what the scouts have to say, it had more to do with being under control, your flexibility, how far you can reach and touch the lines, and those are the things that I picked up today. The NFL looks at more than just speed and quickness."

In the end, most of the NFL evaluations will come through film study. Scouts will evaluate each player's film, much like college coaches do prior to extending an offer, and compare it with the testing to see who can and can't make it at the next level.

"The film is what they're looking at, and I feel like I've had a pretty decent career here at BYU, and now I'm showing the scouts that I have the ability to play at the next level," said Bradley. "I went all out and now it's up to them if they want to give me a chance."

"The biggest things for these guys that speaks the loudest is your game film," said Speredon. "Hopefully that's going to be pleasing to them with how I played and with the mentality that I tried to play this season. Hopefully they'll see the heart and passion that I had. I feel like I left it all out there on the field and gave it my best, and hopefully they'll see that on the film."

Wednesday's Pro Day was an opportunity for players to show the NFL scouts that despite not being in a power conference, BYU has athletes that can compete at the next level.

"Overall I did pretty good," So'oto said. "I'm taking full advantage of the Pro Day. You know, [there are] all these guys you see at the combines that you know you're better than they are, but because they're supposedly in a better program [they] get an invite to the combine or even the all-star games. So this was my time to come out here and show them that just because I didn't go to a big school, or a top-10 program, doesn't mean I'm not an athlete."

There were seven NFL scouts in all at Pro Day. They were representing the Packers, Colts, Steelers, Cardinals, Broncos, Titans and Raiders. The Utah Blaze from the Arena Football League also had a scout on hand.

"Scouts at the next level are basically kind of the scribes," So'oto said. "They don't really make the decisions, so hopefully a GM or a position's coach will come work me out and I'll show them what I've got."

After all the testing is done, what next? Well, the players have agents that will be in contact with the various organizations that have come to test their clients. From there, the players will either get another invite to work out or not.

"I have another workout set up for the 23rd," Speredon said. "I just have to keep training and prepare for that and keep going to see what happens."

"My agent will talk with the scouts and my numbers will be released to all the other teams," So'oto said. "I'll then get some feedback from all the different teams and hopefully they'll want to come work me out so I can show them what I've got."

There were a few former Cougars currently in the NFL that were on hand to watch the next NFL hopefuls perform. Fullback Fahu Tahi (Vikings), linebacker Bryan Kehl (Rams), and offensive lineman Ray Feinga (Dolphins) were in attendance, as were current BYU football players Marcus Mathews, J.J. Di Luigi, Ross Apo, Drew Phillips, Cody Hoffman, Braden Brown, Terrence Brown, Kyle Van Noy, Bryan Kariya and Riley Nelson.

The loudest group award goes to the So'oto family, who drove out from Southern California to show support for Vic. His father, brother and other family members cheered him on during the various tests. Soon, many others in the crowd followed suit.

"Yeah, my dad thought this was some kind of celebration," So'oto said with a laugh. "So, he invited everybody out and I had to put on a show for them, so I did what I did and let the numbers stand where they are."

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