For 16 former Ohio State football players, a lifelong dream is one step closer.
OSU held its Pro Day at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center Friday, as a last chance for some players to show NFL scouts that they deserved to be selected in the upcoming NFL Draft.
For wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown it was a surreal experience, having spent years watching older guys participate and now taking his turn.
“We were talking before this, me and Jordan (Hall), about how everything has flown by,” Brown said. “I remember even being (a) younger dude and watching everybody do this and just thinking ‘We’ve got another year, another two years before we can do this,’ and then it’s here. It’s here before you can blink and it was our time to do it and it was another opportunity in life and we’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Brown was one of six Buckeyes — along with offensive linemen Jack Mewhort and Corey Linsley, cornerback Bradley Roby, linebacker Ryan Shazier and running back Carlos Hyde — who participated in the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
But for the players who weren’t invited to the combine, Pro Day was a chance to show scouts what they are capable of.
“I just wanted to come out and have fun with my guys today, show I could throw the ball around and just come out and compete with the rest of the guys around the country,” quarterback Kenny Guiton said. “I’m just looking for a shot and if I get the shot I’ll try my best to succeed and be a leader, just show I can be a leader on the team and come out and have fun every day with a positive mindset.”
Despite, at times, putting up record-setting numbers for the Buckeyes, Guiton did not receive significant playing time while in school, being the backup for senior quarterback Braxton Miller.
Guiton said having to watch the Combine and not take part was difficult but that it was turned into a motivational factor when his shot came.
“I actually went down to Florida to train and met some cool guys and we’ve all been encouraging each other during the Combine that our time is coming,” Guiton said. “It’s cool to actually have this day and do good out there.”
Echoing Guiton, safety C.J. Barnett said not being invited to the Combine was tough but that being at a place the size of OSU gives scouts a chance to see you perform.
“I couldn’t control if I got invited to the Combine or not. I was kind of down that I didn’t but I had to make do with the opportunity I had,” Barnett said. “Pro Day was here, being Ohio State and having so many guys here we get a lot of attention. This is kind of a mini-Combine with all of the scouts and (general managers) here. So (I) got the opportunity that I needed.”
Certain players decided to sit out different aspects of Pro Day, notably Hyde chose not to run the 40-yard dash after injuring his hamstring at the Combine, and Shazier sat out the individual drills after tweaking his hamstring early in the day.
Shazier said the injury “feels like a blown tire,” but that he isn’t worried about it long term.
“I’m not really concerned about it because I was just trying to rush it back so I could run for everybody,” Shazier said.
The 16 players who participated weren’t the only former Buckeyes in attendance, with safety Christian Bryant watching as his former teammates took the field.
Bryant, who broke his ankle against Wisconsin Sept. 28, said he is close to 100 percent healthy, but he didn’t want to risk another injury before draft day.
“Right now I’m pretty close,” Bryant said. “I’m just taking it slow, I don’t want to really speed through anything and have any minor setbacks because I’ve already been through a major setback so I don’t want to set myself back any further, so right now I’m just taking things slow.”
Former running back Jaamal Berry was also in attendance after transferring to Murray State, located in Murray, Ky., but was not permitted to work out because of an NFL rule preventing players from working out with schools they are not attending or outside of their hometown.
For the Buckeyes, now that Pro Day is over the players will move on to individual workouts with NFL teams before the NFL Draft May 8-10.
If the players are not drafted, teams could offer them a free agent contract and a chance to make the roster. Guiton said a small chance is all that is needed.
“I just want a shot,” Guiton said. “I don’t mind where I’m picked up at, free agency late rounds, it doesn’t matter. I just want a shot and once you get into camp it’s all on you.”