By Marc Weems
With the National Football League Draft just over a month away, Youngstown State University had its pro day to showcase talent. Former Penguins Avery Moss, Derek Rivers, Leroy Alexander, and Jody Webb headlined the class.
This year’s pro day had almost twice as many scouts as last year. Last year, there was 10 NFL teams. This time around, nearly 20 teams showed up to see everyone perform. Teams like the New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers showed.
“I’m trying to get to bigger and better things but this is a start,” Webb said. “I was ready. It was a long time coming.”
Webb said that leading up to this, he trained in Florida to get in shape for this pro day.
At the beginning, everyone that participated did the vertical leap and the bench press after they all weighed in and got their height measured. Offensive lineman Dylan Colucci put up the most reps at 23.
“This was definitely made easier having a lot of other teammates with us,” Alexander said. “I wasn’t so nervous but more anxious to see what I can do. Just try to put on a show in front of scouts and put myself out there.”
Along with the four guys mentioned, Colucci, Brock Eisenhuth, David Rivers III, Martin Ruiz and Jameel Smith among others participated as well.
“Seeing four other pro days and now having mine is very humbling,” Alexander said. “One more step and dreams become reality. I just have to keep working each and every day. Lost in the shuffle of different drills is how clean everyone looked. Unofficially, Webb ran a 4.43 40-yard dash.
“It was a blessing,” Rivers said. “It was tiring but no one was messing around. It was nice to be out there with my brother, Avery [Moss].”
Rivers said that because he was a part of the NFL combine that the pro day was less nerve-racking than it could have been.
“I remembered last year that there was only one guy,” Rivers said. “I was just wondering how position drills were going to be. I thought I did well. Me and Avery have private workouts and meetings with teams. Everyone has told us just to not stop working.”
All eyes were on Rivers and Moss when Steelers legend Kevin Greene put them together for a drill to see how well they catch. Former Steelers linebacker Joey Porter was also in attendance.
“This was definitely a great experience,” Moss said. “It was humbling. I knew I had to work on stuff before. Even though there is two of us in the gauntlet, you definitely want to be more conditioned. The combine helped set me at ease but we are still competing for a job every day.”
Moss said that no matter what the competition, they still have to compete with guys nationally.
“The only thing different from this to the combine is the gauntlet,” Moss said. “There you have 12 guys in front of you but here once you do something you have to do it again.”
YSU’s Pro Day was the last chance that players could prove themselves publicly. That doesn’t mean the competition will stop.
“I had a lot of baggage during my junior year,” Moss said. “Coming here from Nebraska, I didn’t take everything as serious as I should’ve. Before my senior year, I got even stronger. Derek [Rivers] helped me with that both mentally and physically. We started working out and it didn’t matter when or where.”
Moss also said that he still has something to prove and doesn’t want to disappoint anyone. Having Rivers alongside him helped propel him to where he is.
The NFL Draft goes from April 27 through April 29.