By BRAD KEITH
ALEDO (April 1, 2015) — Miles from the bright lights of NFL combines or the Division I pro days such as that being held at Baylor Thursday, a little more than a dozen NCAA Division II football standouts performed for NFL scouts in what for most is a once in a lifetime chance.
Tarleton Pro Day, which also included a couple players from friendly rival Midwestern State, was held at Aledo High School’s indoor practice facility Wednesday morning, with NFL scouts from Carolina, St. Louis, Dallas, Oakland, San Diego and others on hand timing, measuring and taking note of prospects not seen on network television or ESPN and not gloated over by the likes of popular NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.
“I go around and find who I think the diamonds in the rough are – the fifth, sixth, seventh round guys or free agent guys who can make our team,” said Steve Kazor, a scout with the St. Louis Rams. “I’ve got several guys from small schools in Texas who have made our team, whether we drafted them or brought them in as free agents. We still have two currently.”
Kazor and other pro scouts measured athletes abilities in the bench press, 40-yard dash and various forms of shuttle runs and cone drills before holding brief drills specific for defensive backs, receivers or offensive and defensive linemen.
One guy scouts were paying particular attention to is Tarleton all-time leading receiver Clifton Rhodes III.
“It’s another opportunity to get on the field and show what I got,” said Rhodes in between events. “It’s definitely a nervous time, but you have to be able to perform under pressure. That’s a big part of it. There aren’t any do-overs here. You get one shot to impress these guys.”
Guys who are not easily impressed, but were, at least somewhat, by at least one player at the pro day.
Defensive lineman Chris Brown measured in at 6-foot, 3-3/8 inches and 333 pounds before running the 40 in 5.52 despite pulling up on the second attempt. He had a 26-1/2-inch vertical jump and cleared 8-2 in the broad jump, along with running the 20-yard short shuttle in 5.06 seconds and the three-cone drill in 8.16 seconds, all according to a brief Wednesday afternoon post by NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt on nfl.com.
The last Tarleton player to get drafted by an NFL team was defensive end Rufus Johnson who was selected in the sixth round, No. 183 overall, by the New Orleans Saints in 2013. Johnson signed a reserve/future contract with the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots on January 1, 2015.