Cowans, Barrett hoping for a chance

Former University of Wisconsin football players are striving to get a look from NFL scouts

If anyone literally jumped out at the NFL scouts who were gathered at the University of Wisconsin's pro day last week, it was Chuckie Cowans.

It is unlikely that Cowans — a diminutive nickel corner for the Badgers — is high on any NFL radars. But the 5-foot-8, 165-pound Cowans had to have helped his cause with the personal-best 39-inch vertical jump he put on display at the McClain Center in Madison.

Cowans also recorded a respectable 10-foot 6-inch broad jump and 12 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. Perhaps most importantly, he performed well in position drills, displaying good change-of-direction and decent ball skills.

After spending four years a reserve corner and special teams player at Wisconsin, pro day afforded Cowans an opportunity to shed a little more light on his skills.

"I got a lot of good feedback," Cowans said following pro day. "They told me I did a good job out there. A bunch of coaches came up, patted me on the back, said, ‘you looking good out there, good day for you,' which made me feel good about myself today."

When the April 23-24 NFL Draft rolls around, Cowans is not expected to hear his name called. But his strong workout last week improves his chances of receiving an invite to an NFL training camp as a free agent.

"My hope is just to be somewhere in a training camp," Cowans said. "Go out there with a fresh start and do what I can do to survive."

Kalvin Barrett has a similar attitude. After converting from guard to defensive tackle during the 2003 season, Barrett spent the past two years backing up Anttaj Hawthorne and Jason Jefferson, two of the many Badgers who will be drafted in April.

Hawthorne and end Erasmus James are likely first-round picks, a fact Barrett credited with drawing a fairly large contingent of scouts to UW's pro day.

Said Barrett: "I just bless God for everything he's given me and for Anttaj and Erasmus being in my class because half these guys [NFL scouts and coaches] wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them, which is giving guys like me a chance to be looked at, which is really important."

Barrett may have some credentials of interest to NFL teams: He stands 6-foot-1, 320 pounds and he was an excellent high school wrestler.

"I'm not the fastest guy in the world," he said. "You're not going to see me running routes but I can definitely play defense and give everything I've got. If a team's looking for that, that's what I'm willing to offer."

Barrett had a 29-inch vertical jump and 29 reps on the bench press (the most of any of the 18 participants last week). Of the six defensive linemen in attendance who went through Buffalo Bills defensive line coach Tim Krumrie's 1-on-1 sparring session, Barrett arguably held up the best. He also felt he did well in position drills, displaying more quickness than teams may have expected.

Now, it is just a matter of continuing to work out while waiting and hoping for an opportunity to arise, either in the draft or in free agency.

"I'm hoping for anything," Barrett said. "Long snapper, punter, I'll do anything they want. I'm just happy to be alive and happy to be healthy. I completed one of my milestones in my life and I'm feeling really good right now."

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