With defensive lineman Vernon Butler and running back Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech had two high-profile prospects to lure scouts to the school’s March 22 pro day.
“We all thanked them. We’re all brothers and friends,” safety Kentrell Brice said.
With all of those stopwatch-toting scouts, it was up to Brice to attract their attention — and then keep it.
Mission accomplished. Brice ran his 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds, with a 42-inch vertical leap, an 11-foot, 1-inch broad jump and 21 reps on the 225-pound bench press. Among defensive backs at the Scouting Combine, Brice’s vertical would have ranked No. 1, his broad jump would have trailed only first-round pick Jalen Ramsey’s 11-3 and his bench press would have trailed only Utah State’s Miles Killebrew’s 22.
“It was a very pivotal point,” Brice said on Monday, a couple of days after signing an undrafted free agent contract with the Green Bay Packers. “I tried to calm myself down and go out there and do what I know I can do. I just had fun with it. I didn’t try to stress about anything.”
Easier said than done. Brice wasn’t invited to the Scouting Combine. Nor was he invited to an all-star game. That made Tech’s pro day his one and only chance to impress scouts during the lead-up to last week’s draft. Had Brice not put up a series of eye-popping workout numbers, his football career might have been over.
“I had trained my butt off,” Brice said.
A week later, Brice had his one and only personal workout — with Packers scout Richmond Williams.
Brice was hopeful his big pro day would get him drafted. It didn’t, but the Packers’ personal touch gave them the edge over several other suitors.
“It was a great experience,” he said of the draft. “It was kind of long and nerve-wracking waiting through the draft, but when it was finally over and I got the call, it felt great and I felt very positive about where I chose to go.”
The Packers didn’t use any of their seven draft picks on defensive backs and added only one other undrafted safety (Georgia Tech’s Demond Smith). Behind the solid starting tandem of Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the only reserves on the roster before the draft were combo safety-cornerback Micah Hyde and special-teams captain Chris Banjo.
“I just felt like it was the best place for me,” Brice said. “They came down to work me out about a week after pro day. I had communication with them the whole time coming up into the draft. I felt like this was where the most love was and the best fit for me.”
As a senior, Brice finished third on the team with 60 tackles (second with 46 solos), including one sack and three for losses. He added one interception and eight additional pass breakups. A two-and-a-half-year starter, Brice had career-high totals of 86 tackles, four forced fumbles and two interceptions as a junior.
“I love the game,” he said. “I’m just a physical, aggressive type of player. I fly around to the ball. I like interceptions and I like big hits. I like everything. When you see me around, I’m a quiet person — really don’t talk much and just go about handling my business. When it’s time to play, I’m totally different.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.