Looking for a Pros Pro

Hosting its annual pro day in front of dozens of scouts, NFL coaches, general managers and Super Bowl champions, Wednesday's Wisconsin pro day was a chance for high-profile athletes to improve their stock and for other guys to show that they deserve a chance.

MADISON – With one of the most talented senior classes in recent Wisconsin history setting its sights on NFL stardom, it was no surprise to see such a wide-spread gathering of NFL scouts, general managers and head coaches in attendance.

From general managers like Green Bay's Ted Thompson to head coach like the Packers' Mike McCarthy and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin to line coaches like Chicago's offensive line coach Mike Tice, over 50 NFL personnel made their way to UW's McClain Center to evaluate what was a successful group for the University of Wisconsin.

"We started preparation in January, so it was basically an eight-week program with seven weeks of work," UW strength and condition coach Ben Herbert said. "This is strictly a series of seven drills: 40-yard drills, broad jump, vertical jump, pro agility, 3-cone drill, long shuttle, 225-pound bench press and position work. That's it. There's more fatigue component or physically in the game of football. You prepare for those seven specific drills."

Lineman Gabe Carimi

Having gone against four first-round defensive end prospects, winning last season's Outland Trophy, having top durability through multiple injuries and 49 starts and being selected to the Senior Bowl, Carimi didn't have much to prove.

"I honestly feel I am one of the best linemen out there," said Carimi, who ran a 5.12 40-yard dash and a 4.5 in the shuttle. "I do the white board with coaches and there is really nothing you can throw at me that I don't know.

Carimi has spent the weeks following the Rose Bowl working out with PEP in Arizona, a decision he said was based on getting one-on-one attention to prepare for the combines.

Running back John Clay

After not run well at the National Football League scouting combine in Indianapolis, Clay improved his 40 time, being timed at 4.73 seconds and 4.77 seconds, an improvement from the 4.79 to 4.91 range he did at the combine.

"I guess some people wouldn't understand that losing 35 pounds in five weeks really sends a shock through your system, especially me as a running back, not being able to adjust to my lower weight than I was at 250," Clay said. "I am getting closer (to adjusting to that). I am so used to playing heavy since I've been in college. Just being at a low weight, I feel my explosion and my power increasing."

Clay weighed in at 233 pounds Wednesday, the first time he weighted that, and said him losing over 30 pounds was a product of a strict diet, not having time in college to eat the healthy foods and train around the clock. He said some teams want him to put on more weight and some teams want him to stay at the weight he is. He said no team has mentioned to him about moving to fullback.

"I feel more explosive, faster and I got my quick muscles back," said Clay, who did 19 reps on the bench. "I feel real good."

Clay went on to say he doesn't regret the decision to leave after his junior season, felting his stock was high, his skill set was where he wanted it to be and the fact that he turned 23 in January was a key factor.

"If I stayed I would be 24 coming out and that might be a red flag to teams," Clay said. "A guy in my position, the lifespan is two or three years in the NFL."

Clay said he is hoping to get drafted in the top three rounds but like many kids that have the NFL dream, he's simply hoping for a chance.

"I want to be an every down back," Clay said. "That's a big question mark because (scouts) only see me on first and second down carrying the ball."

Wide receiver David Gilreath

Although he only did six reps on the bench press, Gilreath wasn't out to show people his strength as much as his speed. He accomplished that with a 3.98 on his shuttle, 6.58 on the 3-cone and a 4.38 on the 40-yard dash, one of the fastest of the day.

"I think I did pretty well preparing for it," said Gilreath, who worked out at Waukesha's Next Level. "The numbers were where I thought they should be. I think everything I've done is put out there. I can't do much else than what I have done. I am just trying to showcase my speed and after that, hopefully I can get a chance, same thing I did my freshman year. I am a little fish in a big, big pond and you just have to prove yourself."

Tight end Lance Kendricks

Having spent the majority of the summer between his junior and senior season focused on improving his blocking skills, Kendricks feels the work paying off every time a scout mentioned to him how his blocking had improved on film.

"I think that's a really good compliment," said Kendricks. "(Scouts) said they saw a lot of improvement and they are excited that me being so small of a tight end, to do those things."

Kendricks met all his goals and expectations on Wednesday, running the 40-yard dash at 4.54 and having a 38-inch vertical.

"I definitely think I excelled from the combine to here," Kendricks said. "I ran a couple tenths faster, which was something I was looking to do. I think just staying in the film room, keep working out and working on things they need me to work on, that's been my focus."

Lineman John Moffitt

Happy with his results in the combine, Moffitt chose to only do position work Wednesday, more results he was happy with.

"My 40 wasn't great, it was about a swift seven seconds and 30 yards too far," said Moffitt, who ran a 5.4 at the NFL combine. "All my other numbers I was really happy about. I thought I had a good vertical and short shuttle, which are the numbers that pertain to me and my position. I am not an athlete or a track guy."

Moffitt said he hasn't gotten much feedback other than the fact scouts liked how Wisconsin played this past year and that the Badgers run a pro-style offense which translates well to the NFL. He also is hopeful that the labor issue is resolved sooner rather than later.

"I really hope they figure it out because my parents don't give me an allowance anymore," Moffitt said. "I need money."

Lineman Bill Nagy

Overshadowed by Carimi and Moffitt, Bill Nagy has quietly preparing for his chance to perform adequately in front of the NFL scouts. Nagy was one of the more impressive performers. He weighed in a healthy 303 pounds, hit 9-2 on the broad jump, was in the low 5.0s on his 40-yard dash and did 26 reps on the bench press.

"I knew this was the day was my chance to go out and do my thing," Nagy said. "Leading up to this day, it felt like it took forever because I was working on shuttles and 40s for the last eight weeks. This was the first time I ran the 40 since high school. I just want to start playing football and training that way."

Quarterback Scott Tolzien

Addressing media at UW's signing day, Offensive Coordinator Paul Chryst said Tolzien was a player that some NFL teams would be very interested in and some that teams wouldn't look at. In typical Tolzien fashion, the accurate signal caller said he's only out to control what he can control.

"The formula is still the same of trying to get better every day," Tolzien said. "If teams like you, they like you. If they don't, they don't. For me, the focus is on improvement. I feel like an opportunity will come and the rest is what I make of it."

More fun that throwing deep passes or doing the vertical, two things he did very well Wednesday, Tolzien said the most fun was seeing his teammates again.

"A lot of guys you can see how they transformed their bodies physically in the last two months," Tolzien said. "It's been a real fun process, and that's the bottom line. It's something not a lot of people get to go through that and for that, I think we're all faithful."

Tolzien spent time working on his throwing motion and mechanics in Orange County in California, doing a speed workout for two hours in the morning, throw for one hour, film study and working out in the late afternoon basically four times a week. When he was done, McCarthy spent some time chatting with Chryst and Tolzien.

Defensive Lineman J.J. Watt

Like Carimi and Moffitt, Watt was happy with his performance in Indianapolis and worked solely on defensive agility drills.

"I am proud of how relentless I am and how I hard I work," Watt said. "At the same time, that doesn't' discount any amount of talent or any athleticism I have. Just because I am a big Wisconsin kid doesn't mean I am not athletic."

Watt has heard from teams that run either a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense. He had also heard the projections that have him as a top 10 pick, and the projections that have him as a second or even third round pick.

"It's a testament to hard work but I like those people that have me slotted on the lower end," Watt said. "That's just more fuel to the fire. I want to be an impact rookie that helps a team win games."

After working out in a speed camp in Arizona, Watt plans to work out as much as twice a day before the draft in New York, where he said he has an outside shot of being invited to. If there's a lockout, Watt and the other rookies would not be able to meet with their respective coaching staffs to start learning the playbook. If that happens, Watt plans on doing what he did at Central Michigan and Wisconsin, a system that has helped him progress.

"When I went to Central Michigan, I contacted Dan Lefevour and he taught me the offense and when I came here, O'Brien Schofield and Matt Shaughnessy taught me the defense," Watt said. "I am just going to connect with as many players as possible."

-Former Badger wide receiver Maurice Moore completed 17 reps on the bench press.

-Isaac Anderson did 13 reps on the bench press.

-Blake Sorensen completed 22 reps on the bench press.

-Culmer St. Jean tweaked his hamstring during his 40-yard dash run but still managed to push up 30 reps on the bench press.

- Jay Valai did 21 reps on the bench press and had a broad jump of 10 feet.


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