As the NFL new year is in full swing with all the record-breaking news of free agency, there’s one thing that football has been missing: Pro Days. Most Pro Days that were scheduled from mid-March and onward have been cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) since President Trump voiced guidelines as advised from the CDC that call to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
Pro Days have been very helpful for players in the past. Not every athlete can attend or participate in the NFL Combine. Sometimes players are recovering from injury, and sometimes they come from a smaller school that lacks national exposure. Having one good workout could seriously help a prospect gain attention from pro scouts.
One of the last football Pro Day events that was held was with the TEST Football Academy in Martinsville, NJ. Amidst the threat of the ongoing virus, they were determined to proceed with their annual Pro Day. Saying in their Twitter post “We will not let this virus crush the dreams of players that have spent their lives preparing for this moment.” TEST made an unprecedented move in streaming their event LIVE on Facebook March 16th. NFL Draft Bible and Ric Serritella was also instrumental to this Pro Day while filming and helping to record data.
There were 30 participants to this Pro Day, each of which were given the option of performing standard drills that are seen at the NFL Combine (bench press-225 lbs., vertical jump, broad jump, 40-yard dash, 20 yard shuttle, L drill, as well as positional drills).
Kyle Haines, WR from Shippensburg University, provided insight on the urgency of this Pro Day.
“We were notified quickly and it was short notice but we had to get it done because of the restrictions on everything. Everything was mandated to close that night by 8 so it was a true blessing we got to get the day in.”
Although the threat of the Coronavirus is real, it seemingly didn’t affect the outcome of the Pro Day workouts.
Drew Wiley, LB from Villanova, said “we all focused on ourselves and didn’t think about what was going on in the world.” These players had been preparing for this event for months and were not deterred from putting their best foot forward.
These athletes have dreamed about playing professional sports all their lives and most of them took full advantage of the opportunity. Kyle Haines capitalized on this occasion with a 4.48 40-yard dash, 25 bench reps, a 36.5” vertical and a 10’ 9.5” broad jump. Haines attended a Division II university in Shippensburg that underwent changes in the coaching staff, and he said wasn’t given many opportunities to showcase his talent with new schemes and coaching philosophies. Yet, at the TEST Pro Day, Haines shined throughout the day in all his drills.
Having the live feed video also helped provide scouts with film of players doing position drills which was key for certain participants. Pop Lacey, safety from New Hampshire, was also given the opportunity to showcase his talents.
He said, “I’m glad they did that for us because we were able to get numbers out and show how well we move during positional drills.” Lacey had missed half of the 2019 season due to a foot injury and was denied eligibility for an additional year. He was healthy enough to compete in the event and said his “drills went really smooth, cuts hips and breaks were all good!”
The participants that I talked to were very thankful of their opportunity and had praise for the facility and the entire staff. Kyle Haines said “All positives and praise for Kevin, Geir and the whole TEST family and Ric Serritella and the NFL Draft Bible.”
Drew Wiley told me “TEST football takes care of their own and I would recommend anyone that wants to get ready for the NFL Pro Day circuit or combine to go there.”
Written by Jimmy Williams aka @DraftGuyJimmy!