Weather, power outage can’t stop EWU pro day

By Peter Sowards, Senior Reporter

Using the square blue lid of a recyclables container, an EWU employee scraped off just enough snow and sleet so that quarterback Kyle Padron could perform his dropbacks without having to worry about sliding on the wet turf in front of 18 professional scouts.

It was that kind of day.

In the face of dreadful weather and an untimely power outage, seven former EWU Eagles football players showed off their wares in front of a record-high number of NFL teams at Eastern’s pro day on March 6. Padron, along with receivers Brandon Kaufman, Nicholas Edwards and Greg Herd, offensive tackle Will Post and defensive end Jerry Ceja worked out on Roos Field and in the weight room, trying to make an impression with pro teams. Linebacker Zach Johnson measured for height and weight but sat out the workouts due to an offseason shoulder surgery.

After performing two drills inside—the bench press and the vertical jump—a throng of scouts and football players made their way out to a soggy red football field to run the all important 40-yard dash. Many athletes not performing at the pro day skipped afternoon classes to root on their fellow Eagles.

Kaufman improved his 40-yard dash time from the NFL combine, shaving a tenth of a second off, from 4.67 to 4.57. “With those numbers being the last thing that people see rather than the 4.67 official, I think that bodes well,” Kaufman said.

After the six players who worked out completed the 40-yard dash, the rain picked up to the point where it became counterproductive. A collective decision was made by the scouts and players to move back inside to the weight room for movement and agility drills, such as the 20-yard shuttle and the three-cone drill.

With the movement drills performed, scouts had still yet to see Padron throw to the talented wide receiver trio of Kaufman, Edwards and Herd. The growing congregation of student athletes, scouts, media and fans moved to the Jim Thorpe fieldhouse, where it was assumed that there would actually be some semblance of football going on.

Then the power went out.

From 2:27 until 2:33 p.m., the only lights that shone in the EWU field house came from cell phones and TV cameras. After the brief outage, a scout from the Seattle Seahawks huddled with Padron, the three receivers and wide receivers coach/pro football liaison Junior Adams, and they decided to head back outside rather than work out in the field house.

Instead of a red field, the players were greeted with a white, sloppy mixture of snow, hail and sleet at least one half inch thick. The receivers ran far less than originally anticipated, opting to remain mostly stationary when receiving the football as opposed to lining up on the line of scrimmage and performing the entire route.

The ball only touched the ground three times—twice on high throws from Padron and once when Herd was throwing to ball-boy and current EWU quarterback Vernon Adams and Adams couldn’t come up with it. “Herd threw a bad ball!” Adams yelled.

Padron was satisfied with his pro-day performance. “I’m happy with what I did,” he said. “There’s always room for improvement, and I’m going to go back and start training again on Friday and just looking forward to the journey.”

Not known as the most fleet-of-foot quarterback, Padron ran a 4.78 second 40-yard dash after testing in the 4.9 range while training for this day in Frisco, Texas. “I think the adrenaline, the people here, my old teammates encouraging me—I think that all helped,” he said. “It was good to see all my friends and my old teammates.”

Former EWU quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was one of a handful of past Eagles in attendance at the pro day and described the event as “something that would happen to Eastern.”

“You get a record-high [number of] scouts, you got camera crows, you got great recruits, and all of a sudden, here comes some hail, some snow,” he said. “You can’t do anything.”

Eagles head coach Beau Baldwin was proud of how his former players responded to the adversity presented to them. “The fact that we even came out here was because they wanted to,” he said. “Their mindset was ‘let’s go outside instead of throwing in the field house.’ Obviously it’s tough to do things full speed without a plowed field; they were still out there—receivers running. Kyle was taking full-speed drops. It just says a lot about their mentality.”

Baldwin noted that the NFL attention was unprecedented. “That doesn’t happen by accident,” he said. “In terms of a pro day, I haven’t seen anything quite this big. It says a lot about the work they put in through their four or five years here.

“They deserve this day.”

Notable standout performances included Edwards’ 40-inch vertical leap and 4.09 second 20-yard shuttle. Edwards also showed off his strength with 16 bench-press reps of 225. Kaufman elected not to not participate in the broad jump or bench press at the pro day after jumping 9 feet 7 inches and repping 225 pounds nine times at the NFL scouting combine on Feb. 23.

Washington State wide receiver Marquess Wilson had intended on performing at EWU’s pro day, but an NFL rule stipulates that players from football bowl subdivision schools are not allowed to test at football championship subdivision schools, unless that school is located in the player’s hometown. Wilson quit the team in November 2012 after lobbying allegations of abuse against WSU head coach Mike Leach and the coaching staff.

A full record of unofficial results can be found on the website.

Follow me on Twitter @PeterSowards or at @EasternerSports