Former University of Louisville tight end Cole Hikutini entered his Pro Day workout at U of L with high expectations. After sitting out of drills at the NFL Combine earlier this month due to a knee injury, Hikutini had his first opportunity to display his speed and route running ability in front of NFL scouts at Louisville’s Pro Day.
The injury, which occurred during Louisville’s loss in the Citrus Bowl last season, forced Hikutini to sit out of the Senior Bowl. He attended the NFL Combine but was only able to participate in the bench press because he was still rehabilitating his knee.
“It was a grind,” Hikutini said. “I rehabbed for about two months all the way up to the Combine and then started opening it up and running after the Combine was over. I ran my first 40 last week so it was definitely a journey, but it was fun.”
The 6-foot-5, 248-pound Hikutini was clocked in the 4.7-second range on his 40-yard dash and recorded a 10-foot broad jump during Louisville’s Pro Day. He says he thinks he could have improved his time on the 40-yard dash if he had more time to prepare after recovering from his knee injury, but he says he was glad to move past the drill specific training.
“It’s three months of working out for one day.” Hikutini said. “So it was finally good to get it over with and come out here and compete.”
Hikutini, who transferred to Louisville from City College of San Francisco, became one of quarterback Lamar Jackson’s most reliable targets last season. He recorded 668 receiving yards and led the team in receptions (50) and receiving touchdowns (8).
Hikutini credits coach Petrino’s offensive system for helping him get national attention as a tight end prospect.
“I think his scheme and how he uses concepts relates to the NFL, so when I do go into those meetings it’s almost the same stuff just different terminology,” he said. “I can relate to it so I know what they want.”
Hikutini says that he has a “busy April” ahead, with official meetings and private workouts scheduled with multiple NFL teams.
“It’s what we all dream of,” he said. “All we have to do is workout, eat, sleep, and play football- no more school, classes, or study hall. We just get to do what we love.”
Hikutini is projected as a mid-to-late round pick by most mock drafts.