For a brief time Wednesday morning, Colorado State University felt like the center of the entire football universe. The school held its annual NFL pro day, giving outgoing players the chance to audition in front of professional scouts and assorted media. Seven athletes partook in this year’s event, including offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo, a prospect some believe could become a first round pick when the draft kicks off in Chicago on April 30th.
Just a few years ago, many questioned whether Colorado State football would ever be important enough to draw the interest of NFL franchises again. During the mid-2000s, CSU was the laughing stock of the Mountain West Conference. Now, after a ten-win season, it’s clear how much the program has grown.
According to the University, this year’s pro day drew more interest than any other in school history. 35 scouts from all 32 teams were in attendance. The Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were on hand sporting team gear to watch cornerback Bernard Blake, linebacker Aaron Davis, defensive tackle LaRyan King, wide receiver Charles Lovett, linebacker Max Morgan, kicker Jared Roberts, and the aforementioned Sambrailo work out in Ft. Collins.
For linebacker Aaron Davis, the growth in the program is evident, “Teams are noticing CSU,” David told us after his workout, “That wasn’t the case when I got here four years ago.” Much of that growth can be credited to former head coach Jim McElwain, now the head honcho at the University of Florida. Under his leadership, Colorado State won 22 games in three seasons, including a New Mexico Bowl victory in 2013.
To Ty Sambrailo, the star of Wednesday morning’s festivities, McElwain’s tutelage couldn’t have been more important to his development. “He sat guys down that he thought had a shot, and told us what he thought we could do, and what our potential was.” Those kind of interactions could turn out to be the difference between Sambrailo being a first or second day selection.
Mike Bobo, the coach hired to replace McElwain, inherits a very different program than the one McElwain began leading in 2012. Last year, two players were drafted into the NFL out of Colorado State. This year, that number could be as high as four. Sambrailo, Davis, and the kicker, Jared Roberts are being strongly considered by NFL scouts. The Broncos took a flyer on two former Rams who went undrafted last season--running back Kapri Bibbs and linebacker Shaquil Barrett.
The one noticeable absence on Wednesday was quarterback Garrett Grayson, whom some scouts and draft experts believe could be the third-best quarterback in this class. Grayson is nursing a leg injury that held him out of NFL Scouting Combine workouts in Indianapolis last month. He’ll get his shot in front of scouts at his own pro day on March 23rd. That event promises to only intensify the already glaring spotlight the CSU football program now finds itself in.
The video below was shot by MHH Director of Video Content Brandon Perna. Sambrailo talks about having to do "funky" drills.
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