Truth be told, Kyler Reed hadn’t given it much thought. Please excuse him. He’s been a tad busy with the sprints, the weights and all the sweat and toil that go with chasing a professional football dream.
But now that someone mentioned it, yeah, next Thursday would be kind of a special day for more reasons than the obvious.
All those guys he’s been through the ups and downs with the past five years will be in it together one last time, working out for the NFL scouts at Nebraska’s Pro Day.
“Just from watching (Pro Day) last year, you saw the guys come together, the seniors cheering each other on because everybody wants the best for each other,” Reed said. “We all want each other to succeed.”
In an attempt to find that success, they’ve diligently showed up for work the past two months — Reed, Ben Cotton, Alonzo Whaley, Will Compton, Cameron Meredith, Eric Martin, P.J. Mangieri, even 2011 senior Mike Caputo — following Husker football strength coach James Dobson’s commands.
Who knows? Work hard enough and maybe some guy in an NFL team's windbreaker highlights your name.
None of these former Huskers were invited to the NFL Combine. That doesn’t mean they can’t earn their way into an NFL camp.
“I think maybe the first couple weeks were like, ‘Dang, we didn’t get invited,’” Reed said. “We were disappointed. Because it’s a cool experience. You get to tell your kids and family about it. But we’re still going to have plenty of scouts here (next Thursday). You still have a chance to get drafted. You still have a chance to make a camp.”
Tight ends Reed and Cotton have stuck close together during training. They do position drills together. Sometimes they bounce ideas off each other.
Their weekly schedule, for these past couple months, has centered around football.
Monday is running and weights. Tuesday is weights and recovery. Wednesday is running and position drills. Thursday is weights. Friday is running and position drills.
And, always, the cold tub is your friend.
Cotton said he’s not so much nervous. He’s just ready for the day to be here, to show what he’s got. Maybe even show he’s a little quicker on his feet than some suspect.
“I know I’m not going to go out there blazing or anything. But I just want to be able to go out and show them that I’m faster than people think,” Cotton said. “A lot of people see me as strictly a run-blocking, big, bruiser-type guy. I want to show them I can move, I can be agile. Just like Kyler’s trying to do. He’s trying to show them he can be a threat in the run game, too. Be a good blocker, be the receiver that he has been. We kind of stole (stats) from each other, but we couldn’t be happier having these past five years together.”
Martin said he’s not that nervous, either. He’s actually feeling quite comfortable knowing he’s testing out alongside teammates in the familiar Hawks Championship Center, which has been known to have a fast track for 40 times.
Martin is comfortable enough that he’s made a few fun wagers with teammates about those 40-yard dash times and other things.
“Me and Will Compton got something going,” Martin said. “It just makes it fun so it can take the nervousness out of you.”
But the joking ends when it’s time to work.
It’s a different kind of work than during football season, of course.
“You’re trying to get good at a couple tests,” Dobson said. “That’s what you’re aiming for, is to get good at these tests, which a lot of times will have nothing to do with how good of a football player you are.”
For instance, in Dobson’s view, there’s only one point in a player’s career when the 40-yard dash is important.
“And it’s right now. So you have to train specifically to get good at the 40-yard dash. But if you look at the game of football, 95 percent of these guy’s resume is already done because of game film. That is their resume at the next level. But at one point in time, the 40 is important. It’s this March 7.”