Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
There was a time not long ago when Evan Worthington wasn’t sure he’d ever get a chance to play in the NFL.
The former Cherokee Trail High School star was suspended by the Colorado football team for the 2016 season and dismissed from school. He had two years of eligibility left, but a long road back.
“A lot of people, they need something to push them,” Worthington said. “For me, I felt like I was losing motivation in football. But having it being taken away from me taught me a great lesson. I can’t be taking this stuff for granted. It was great for me to learn from all of that.”
One of the Buffs’ top players on defense the past two seasons, Worthington was among several seniors to work out for scouts at CU’s indoor practice facility on Wednesday at the annual pro day.
“It’s definitely amazing, just thinking about that 2016 year,” he said. “I was thinking about getting to this point (of working for the NFL), but it was hard for me to imagine it, especially being in the position I was in. Being here, it’s really a great opportunity.”
The lone CU player invited to the NFL combine in Indianapolis, Worthington worked out for scouts there on Monday.
“I put up some good numbers (in Indianapolis), but I feel like I could have done better,” he said. “It was a good experience being around all those athletes. It was great for me.”
On Wednesday, he limited himself to just a few shuttle drills, as well as the 40-yard dash. After running the 40 in 4.63 seconds at the combine on Monday, he posted a 4.59 on Wednesday. He was unable to run a second time, however, because of a tight hamstring.
The 6-foot, 1.5-inch, 205-pound Worthington is considered CU’s top NFL prospect this season. After starring at safety the past two years, Worthington said teams have talked to him about playing safety, cornerback or linebacker.
Wherever he plays, Worthington is just excited for the opportunity to hear his name called in the NFL draft next month.
“I’m very grateful for (the past trials),” he said. “It was a blessing in disguise for me. Being back here and doing all this stuff is real great for me. I’m just going to keep working and just getting better on everything and making sure I’m healthy for the draft.”
His 2-year-old son, Kannon — born during Worthington’s year away from the game – was a part of his fan club on Wednesday.
“He’s my biggest influence,” Worthington said. “I’m doing everything for him. He’s inspiring me every day to get better so I can make a better life for him.”
Defensive lineman Javier Edwards, linebacker Drew Lewis, running back Travon McMillian and receiver Juwann Winfree are among CU’s other top draft hopefuls and they all had solid efforts Wednesday.
Edwards, who came to CU as a nearly 400-pound junior college transfer two years ago, weighed in at a svelte 323. He played last year at around 335-340.
The lighter Edwards was impressive, with 31 reps on the 225-pound bench press and a 5.05 in the 40. Only four defensive linemen at the combine in Indy had more bench reps and scouts were impressed with his 40 time for his size.
“Every drill I did exceptional, but I know myself and I know what I’m capable of,” said Edwards, who estimates he has talked with half of the teams in the NFL. “After this, I’m almost positive my name is going to get called.”
McMillian is hopeful, too. Measuring in at 5-11.3 and 203 pounds, McMillian ran the 40 in 4.47 seconds and had 22 reps on the bench. At the NFL combine, only two running backs were faster and only five had more bench reps. He also looked good catching passes.
Lewis, known for his athleticism, posted a 4.5 in the 40 – a time that would have ranked among the top five linebackers at the combine – and had 20 bench reps, along with a 34-inch vertical leap.
“I’m excited with my performance,” he said.
Winfree had a good day, as well, with a 4.5 in the 40, 16 bench reps and a solid performance catching passes.
Receiver Kabion Ento wowed those in attendance with his vertical leap of 41.5 inches. He also led the group with a broad jump of 11-1. … Running back Kyle Evans had impressive numbers, with a 4.5-second 40, 26 bench reps and a 36.5-inch vertical leap. … Other former Buffs to work out: Nick Fisher, Rick Gamboa, Donovan Lee and Chris Mulumba. … Former Stanford and Tennessee quarterback Keller Chryst threw passes to receivers and running backs. He’s been working out in Denver in preparation for the draft. … Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay was in attendance to watch some of his former CU teammates.