Chris Duvalt Working To Make NFL Team

Most football players who dream of making an NFL roster never make it. But there are a large number of quality athletes who are on the bubble of achieving their dreams. They work hard to impress pro scouts, feeling they will excel if given a chance. Illini receiver Chris Duvalt has that dream, and he is still hopeful after working out at Illinois' recent Pro Timing Day.

Chris Duvalt played two years at defensive back and two years at receiver for Illinois. He showed tremendous improvement on offense, making great catches when called upon. Now he wants to play pro ball, so he showcased his talents for the pro scouts.

"I think I did pretty well," Duvalt recalls. "I could have got a better 40 time, but overall it was a pretty good workout. I ran a 4.5 something. I was rolling out of my start, so that was killing me."

Duvalt wasn't invited to the NFL Combine, so this was his big opportunity to impress the scouts.

"Yeah, that's how I looked at it. My time to shine. I had contact with one scout before today, but not many. I spoke to a couple of them today."

The Lakeland, Florida, speedster worked out both as a receiver and defensive back.

"I think I impressed most of the scouts out here with the db drills and wide receiver drills I did. I think I did better at the wide receiver drills because I feel more natural there. But I think I did a pretty good job at the db drills."

One thing in Duvalt's favor was the improvement he showed in his second year at receiver.

"I only played two years at the receiver position, so I think that's what the scouts are looking at. Each year I got better, so if I could have stayed one more year my numbers would have shot up a lot more than they did this year. That plays a big part when they're looking at a player like myself who's switched positions in their college career."

He didn't travel to some distant locale to train for his tryout, but he worked hard just the same.

"I've been training here with Coach Lou (Hernandez) and our strength coaches. Sometimes I'd go up to Chicago to train, but I've been here most of the time.

"In my time with Coach Lou, I think he did a great job with me and Jeff Cumberland. It felt more comfortable training with someone you've been training with the last four years. So I think I did a good thing by staying here and training."

Duvalt may be graduating one year too soon. New offensive coordinator Paul Petrino coaches receivers, and the more pro-style offense being installed would have suited him well.

"My roommate is Fred Sykes, and he comes over every day all excited, telling me how much they're gonna be throwing it. He's real excited. There are gonna be a lot of changes in this offense. I think it's gonna be more of a pass-happy offense.

"I think I would have benefitted greatly to have another year. But that's how it went. I'm happy with what I did here at the University of Illinois."

Now he wants a chance to continue his football career. He isn't picky.

"Whatever works out. Whether I work out at somebody's camp or get drafted is all right with me. If I can catch on with somebody's camp, I have a pretty good feeling I can make the team because of how hard I work.

"I think every team looks at players different. They look at players for their needs instead of their wants. A guy like me can play defensive back and wide receiver, and I can be a return guy on special teams. I think I've got a shot at making it in the League."

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