Cougars Get Ready for the Next Level

Eleven graduating players worked out in front of NFL scouts Wednesday during Pro day at BYU. Each of the players showed off to pro scouts their athletic abilities through a number a drills testing their speed, strength and overall agility. For players, there was a lot of build up to the day's events, which they're very thankful to have behind them.

"I'm glad that this day finally came and that it's over," said Kelly Poppinga following his testing in front of scouts. "I felt good today and felt like I did pretty well. I got some good feedback from some scouts and from a couple of linebacker coaches, so I'm pretty pumped."

For players like Poppinga and Bryan Kehl, Wednesday's drills capped off two months of intense preparation.

"In that whole two-month period before the combine it was twice a day, six days a week in getting after it with our trainers," said Kehl. "It's totally different that what we did here training for the football season. We were training to become track, bench and vertical superstars, and so we did things differently."

Preparation is of chief importance in running through the various cone drills and other workouts that the scouts put the players through. If players aren't prepared sufficiently, they're not likely to perform well and subsequently not catch the eye of those evaluating them.

"It's huge," said Kehl. "[The scouts] want to see if you can move, they want to see if you're athletic. One way to test athleticism is tangibly with a vertical or an inch number or with speed and a second number in the 40-yard dash. But in other ways they can just watch a guy and see if he's fluid and if he's smooth in his movement, and that's really the only thing these drills are for."

When he was at the NFL combine a few weeks ago, Kehl was able to see close up what he's up against. During the event, Kehl was able to see what strengths players had and how he could separate himself in order for scouts to take notice of his abilities.

"At the combine I was really surprised at how many of these big, fast, high-jumping linebackers were [unnatural and not fluid] in the agility drills," noted Kehl. "That's the area where I really feel I separated myself from the others at the combine…"

Kehl thought he performed better Wenesday than he did at the combine, which should work to help out his overall evaluation. Kehl felt that he improved in every test he ran, saying he felt more loose thanks to being on his "home turf" at BYU, while not having to file through numerous medical checkups and MRIs before running through his drills.

Both Kehl and Poppinga said they're thankful for the experience, but are anxious to have it over. Now that they've tested, they can concentrate on getting themselves ready to play football rather than ready themselves for a track meet.

"All we've been preparing for over the last two months is to jump high, to jump far, to run fast, and I'm excited to get this done," said Poppinga. "Now we can get ready to play some football."


Players did reps with the 225-pound, bar and here are the unofficial numbers:
Sete Aulai - 24
Chris Bolden - 23
Ben Criddle - 19
Kelly Poppinga - 27
Andre Saulsberry - 19
Joe Semanoff - 35
Markell Staffieri - 25
Sean Sullivan - 29
Both Bryan Kehl and Kayle Buchanan did not participate in the this drill.

The scout-recorded times for the forty and the various cone drills were not revealed to those in attendance. Of the players, family members and others in attendance, there were about 25 or so unofficial time-keepers that did the best they could to time the players.

The unofficial timekeepers all agreed that Kehl ran his forty in about 4.56 seconds. When he did it again, the same number came up. Sete Aulai appeared to be close to the 5.0 range, while Kayle Buchanan and Ben Criddle were around the 4.5 range. Kelly Poppinga and Markell Staffieri both ran their forties at about 4.7 seconds unofficially.

The workout was very well attended, with more than half of the existing football team in attendance. The players were very vocal in encouraging their former teammates in all of the drills.

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