Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
The NFL hasn’t had much reason to pay attention to Boulder in recent years.
That is changing, however, and on Wednesday, all the NFL’s eyes were on the Buffaloes.
A total of 44 scouts from all 32 NFL teams were on hand for Colorado’s annual Pro Timing Day at the indoor practice facility.
It’s the first time since the NFL expanded in 2002 that all 32 teams were in attendance, and just the second time ever that the entire league was on hand (also in 1995, when the NFL had 30 teams).
“It’s excellent,” CU head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “I told them when I see a bunch of them here, I know we have a good team, because good football players make good coaches.”
Fourteen former Buffs took part in the annual pro day with the hope of impressing NFL scouts.
“That’s a blessing,” cornerback Chidobe Awuzie said of all 32 teams being on hand. “We all came here with a vision to rebuild this program and make a winning tradition here.
“Hopefully we led a legacy here where we’ll have more guys coming out next year and all 32 teams will be here again.”
CU has not had a player selected in the NFL draft since 2014, but could have several in this year’s draft, April 27-29.
Awuzie and fellow defensive backs Ahkello Witherspoon and Tedric Thompson are all projected a mid-round picks.
That trio was on hand just two days after taking part in the NFL’s scouting combine in Indianapolis. In addition to position-specific drills, that trio participated in the vertical leap, but not other drills.
Awuzie had an impressive vertical leap of 39 ½ inches, a full five inches better than his leap at the combine. Thompson had a leap of 35 ½ inches, an improvement of three inches. Witherspoon didn’t match the 40 ½ he had at the combine, but still wowed with a 38-inch leap.
In addition to the secondary trio, quarterback Sefo Liufau was on hand after taking part at the combine in Indy. Liufau didn’t do any drills, but did throw passes.
“You just want to go out there and give it your best effort and I feel like I did that today,” he said.
While Wednesday was important for those who went to the combine, it was even more important for those NFL hopefuls who weren’t at the combine.
In addition to the vertical leap, players were tested on how many times they could bench press 225 pounds, and they were teste din the broad jump, 40-yard spring, shuttle drill and L-drill.
In particular, defensive linemen Jordan Carrell, Samson Kafovalu and Josh Tupou had a chance to work out for NFL scouts for the first time, as did linebackers Jimmie Gilbert and Kenneth Olugbode and offensive lineman Alex Kelley.
“Really this is our combine,” said Kelley, who broke his personal records in the bench press, jumps and running drills. “This is our one opportunity. We had one chance to run an L-drill, one chance to run a shuttle. It’s important.”
Among the group of non-combine participants, Tupou is arguably the top prospect. The 6-foot-3 Tupou weighed in at 353 pounds, an important nine-pound loss from the Shrine Game in January. Tupou said he would still like to get to around 340 pounds.
Gilbert is another borderline draft pick who needed a good day. An athletic outside linebacker/defensive end, the 6-foot-5 Gilbert weighed 234 pounds, a gain of 17 pounds from the end of last season.
He was disappointed in his bench press (only 12 reps), but was impressive with a vertical leap of 37 inches.
“Hopefully they liked what they saw,” he said. “The ball is in their court. I did what I could do, did the best to my ability.”
Kafovalu was one of the most impressive Buffs on Wednesday. He led everybody with 33 bench press reps, had an impressive 32 ½-inch vertical and showed his athleticism in the shuttle and L-drill.
Kafovalu was disappointed in his 40-yard sprint (5.16 seconds), but feels good about the work he’s done this offseason.
“I’m pretty stoked,” he said. “I’ve never been on this road before. I’ve been getting pointers from (CU defensive line coach Jim) Jeffcoat and a couple other coaches that have experience with the NFL. I’m just looking for the opportunity to showcase myself in the proper manner I would like. Get me in a training camp and say no more; I’m on it.”
Olugbode put his athleticism on display with a 35-inch vertical, 19 bench press reps and a time of 4.68 seconds in the 40. … Other Buffs who participated were Jaleel Awini, Shane Callahan, Sean Irwin and Deaysean Rippy. … A total of 19 players from other area schools participated, as well.