NFL hopefuls aim to impress scouts at annual pro day

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Safety Christian Scott runs drills during Texas' annual pro day on Tuesday. Scott, along with 13 other Texas athletes, performed in front of 50 scouts, head coaches and general managers. Scott had an impressive workout and, if drafted, could be a sixth or seventh round pick.

Photo Credit: Thomas Allison | Daily Texan Staff

Fourteen Texas athletes showed what they have been working toward for the past four years at Texas’ pro day on Tuesday.

For Emmanuel Acho, Kheeston Randall and Keenan Robinson, the day was to improve their stock for the NFL Draft on April 26. They, along with injured running back Fozzy Whittaker, attended the NFL combine in February.

But this pro day was also vital for players who weren’t invited to the combine, especially safety Blake Gideon, tackle Tray Allen, safety Christian Scott, running back Cody Johnson, center David Snow and kicker Justin Tucker. John Chiles also came back to Austin for pro day. A former New Orleans Saint, he came back to show scouts his potential.

Pro day was especially important for Robinson. Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith and linebackers coach Bob Babich came to Austin to see his workouts. Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was also in attendance. Robinson performed better at pro day than in the combine and said he jumped an inch higher in the vertical jump and five inches farther in the broad jump.

Robinson isn’t sure what round he will be drafted in, but feels he deserves to be wherever he will be picked. He hopes that teams will see him as a big player with the ability to move well in space.

“For me, I think I am right where I need to be,” Robinson said. “I did what I did on the field and this offseason. So now we sit back and wait and hope that I get a good situation and a good team.”

Linebacker Emmanuel Acho partially tore his quad while running the 40-yard dash at the combine three weeks ago. Trainers told him it would take three to six weeks for him to recover.

“I told them I’ve got three weeks,” Acho said.

Acho, like Robinson, hopes that scouts will appreciate his versatility. Although Acho would be excited to be a part of any team, he would love to go to the Cardinals and join his brother, Sam. Acho was impressive in his position drills despite not being 100 percent. Sam was in attendance along with other Longhorn alumni like Jordan Shipley, Aaron Williams and David Thomas. Men’s basketball guard J’Covan Brown even came to watch fellow Texas athletes while they participated in position drills.

Blake Gideon, although he is not expected to be picked in the draft, had a strong performance. He said he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.58 and 4.56 seconds. Although he was hoping to finish better, he was happy with his overall performance and said it was a huge weight off his shoulders now that pro day is over.

“We train for two-and-a-half months for one day so it was good to see guys come out here and compete,” Gideon said. “That’s all it is, you come out here and you compete against numbers you already put up and you’re competing against each other.”

Fozzy Whittaker was very limited in his workouts due to his injury. But he increased his reps from 20 to 23.

“That’s the kind of guy he is,” Gideon said. “He was only limited to one thing and he still improved that.”

Although Whittaker’s injury has hurt his chances of being drafted, he never lost hope of being drafted. He is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation and plans to be 100 percent by late summer.

“I’ve always kept the faith,” Whittaker said. “I’ve always had it in my mind that whatever my mind tells me to do, that’s what I can do.”

He hopes to impress scouts as a running back, kick returner and punt returner.

“However I can touch the field is how I’m selling myself,” Whittaker said.

Although most of the hopefuls on the field on Tuesday will never walk onto the field as NFL players, their time at Texas is coming to an end. At the end of last season, Texas led the NFL with 40 active players. Come April 29, these Longhorns will learn their fate.