No Combine, no problem for these two Cougs

PULLMAN -- John Fullington and Damante Horton weren't invited to this weekend's NFL Combine in Indianapolis, but the two outgoing seniors from Washington State are absolutely undaunted, and excited, about getting a shot on football's biggest stage.

"It feels amazing to be in this situation and to be a role model and to help my family," Horton, a 5-10, 178-pound cornerback told this week.

"It's crazy," said Fullington, a 6-5, 300-pound offensive lineman. "Pretty awesome."

Each year the Combine invites about 300 of what scouts believe are the best available college seniors and early departing juniors to several days of drills and interviews. But the audition is by no means critical to finding a job in the NFL. Super Bowl MVP Malcom Smith of the Seahawks was never invited. Neither was Doug Baldwin. Matt Hasslebeck, Wes Welker ... the list of notables who failed to get an invitation goes on and on.

So while their Cougar teammate Deone Bucannon and others who are viewed as more likely NFL prospects are huffing and puffing in Indianapolis this weekend, Fullington and Horton are in Pullman sticking to their daily grind.

They'll get their chance to impress NFL and CFL scouts at WSU's Pro Day on March 13.

"It's been going pretty well," Horton said of his preparations. "I've been working hard. (I'm) not really nervous, just excited. I can't wait to get out and show what I have.

"I've just been working on agility, the 30, that kind of stuff."

Fullington said he's lifting weights and working on agility, but also spending serious time on honing his O-line technique.

In addition, he's trying to gain five pounds. "It's pretty tough," he laughed. "I weigh 300 right now, so that's alright, but I'm trying to get to about 305."

Fullington, who hails from Belfair, Wash., said he's hearing that scouts view him as possibly a late-round pick "but probably a free agent."

He started 43-straight games in his Cougar career, beginning mid-way through his true freshman season of 2010 and continuing through the New Mexico Bowl this past December. He played every O-line position but center. In 2013 he started five games at right guard and eight at right tackle.

Fullington has been stellar in the classroom since arriving at WSU and already has earned a degree in kinesiology. "I'm taking a few classes right now," he said. "If football doesn't work out I'll get a master's in teaching."

Horton, an Oakland native, said he hasn't heard much from the scouting grapevine, but he's ready to make an impression.

In 2013, he earned national defensive player of the week honors for his heroics in WSU's upset of USC and went on to be named honorable all-conference for the second time in his career. He was fourth in the Pac-12 in interceptions and returned three of those picks for TDs.

Like Fullington, Horton is excited about the chance to play in the NFL, but confesses that leaving Pullman will be tough.

"I'll remember the bond we have (with) fans," he said. "How crazy the fans were ... "

Fullington echoed those comments.

"Being off the team is weird," he said. "I'll miss all the team camaraderie. And I love the small town, the fans. They were great … But it would have been better if we'd won that bowl game!"

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