NFL Pro Day on the Palouse

PULLMAN — NFL scouts came to Pullman on Thursday to put more than a dozen outgoing Cougars with pro aspirations through their paces. A throng of current Cougar players looked on as spectators inside the indoor practice facility at Washington State, watching intently as their crimson brethren showcased their speed, strength and flash.

There were 14 Cougs on hand who jumped, lifted and ran before scouts that included the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks. The 14 were: running backs James Montgomery, Marcus Richmond, and Chantz Staden; offensive linemen Zack Williams and Micah Hannam; long snapper Zach Enyeart; kicker Nico Grasu; punter Reid Forest; defensive linemen Kevin Kooyman, Toby Turpin and Bernard Wolfgramm; linebacker Myron Beck; tight end Aaron Gehring and wide receiver Daniel Blackledge.

"This is an opportunity for a lot of players," said Paul Wulff, who watched the bench press and broad jump along with most of his team before the Cougs' third spring practice. "Anybody that has an opportunity to play college football No. 1, and then if they have success in college, and to have this opportunity to try out for the NFL, is something they'll never forget."

Pro day began with the body measurements and wing spans and then the action kicked off -- Daniel Blackledge impressed as he posted a 40-inch vertical – and the crowd of spectators came to life. Many eyes remained on Blackledge the entire afternoon – CougGreat and St. Louis Rams wide out Brandon Gibson said Blackledge put forth a solid performance.

"I think Black (Blackledge) and Marcus Richmond have really performed well today. They ran and jumped well, and I feel like they've showed the scouts a lot today," Gibson said.

Blackledge also got the crowd hootin' and hollerin' during the 40-yard dash, when he ripped off a 4.3 time -- he was asked to run one more time by the Giants' scout, to give him a chance to possibly lower his time. When it came to the shuttle run, the scouts were the first to shout Blackledge to the block.

THE SCOUTS DIDN'T have much to say to anyone, however. They pretty much kept their thoughts to themselves and voices hushed -- even when it came to giving out stats and times amongst the other scouts, they made it a point not to let anyone else know what was happening with the stock of the players.

Marcus Richmond posted a 4.4, 40-time along with 21 reps at the bench -- solid for a 6-1, 218 pound running back.

Everyone huddled around the bench press rack when Kevin Kooyman and Zack Williams approached the weights.

Kooyman pumped out 28 reps at 225 pounds while Williams was able to get up the weight 35 times.

PHYSICALLY, PRO DAY requires a high level of preparation but according to Wulff, the mental weight can be what's most overwhelming.

"The best part of being prepared is being part of a college system that has provided great discipline, great competition and being in the system over a 4-5 year period -- they're going to be the best prepared for the NFL," Wulff said.

"It takes a mental toughness, and the ability to know how to grind and train. You've got to be mentally strong to get to this point, and even stronger to get to the next level," Wulff added.

RICHMOND SET THE mark at the broad jump with a 10-foot leap, while Kooyman was right behind with a 9'-8" jump.

At the bench press, Beck was able to pump out 17 reps and Toby Turpin was able to clear the bar 24 times.

When it came to individual drills, Blackledge shined again with precise routs, a toe dragging snag and only one dropped pass.

Wolfgramm was the only player who appeared to end the afternoon with an injury -- he pulled up right before the finish line of the 40 yard dash, grabbing his left leg. He was cared for by the training stuff with a strained hamstring.

As for who might have increased their stock most, certainly Blackledge was a candidate for that honor, although the number of scouts in attendance were few. The event was filmed for video to be sent out to the rest of the NFL.

NOTABLE NOTE:
Montgomery's inclusion would appear the clearest signal yet that he has chosen not to try and obtain an extra year of college eligibility. Turpin, who rendered himself academically ineligible last spring, started six games at WSU as a junior in 2009, with 28 tackles.

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