Trojans impress at Pro Day

Published 10:49 am Wednesday, March 22, 2023

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The Troy University football team held its annual Pro Day on March 21 and 29 scouts from across the NFL and Canadian Football League were on hand to watch.

Throughout the morning, a total of 17 Troy players went through individual drills on the field and in the weight room.

“The turnout from the NFL teams was tremendous,” Troy Coach Jon Sumrall said. “For our guys to have the opportunity to perform in front of them and showcase their talents and ability is a really special day.

Troy coach Jon Sumrall talks with NFL Scouts. A total of 28 scouts from the NFL were on hand for Pro Day.

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“Everyone did a great job, and I’m proud of them for their accomplishments. Today is just a piece of the puzzle; the film is what everybody always goes back to. When the moments got big, did you get big too or did you shrink? The football questions are easy to answer for our guys; there is a reason we were 12-2 as a team, and it is because this group working out today is tough-minded, high character blue-collar guys who love the game and love each other.”

The NFL teams represented at Troy’s Pro Day included the San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers, Buffalo Bills, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens, Las Vegas Raiders, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions. The CFL’s Edmonton Elks were also on hand.

Senior center Jake Andrews continued to impress this offseason after turning heads at both the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine recently. He posted a total of 29 reps on the bench press, which would have ranked sixth amongst offensive linemen at the Combine. Andrews also posted a 4.76 time in the shuttle and 7.79 time in the three-cone drill.

The biggest surprise of the morning may have been Troy defensive tackle Shakel Brown, who wasn’t invited to the recent NFL Combine. He posted 30 reps on the bench press, which would rank second among defensive linemen at the Combine. Brown also ran a 4.92 in the 40-yard dash and his time of 4.41 in the shuttle would have ranked first at the Combine. His 32.5-inch vertical jump would have also ranked third. After his performance, NFL Draft reporters across the country were raving about the 6-foot-3-inch, 295-pound lineman.

“Everybody did a great job, I don’t think anyone is disappointed, but maybe the surprise of the day was Shakel Brown,” Sumrall said. “He popped a 4.92 in the 40, which was kind of an eye-opener and raised a lot of eyebrows from some people.”

As a senior, Brown tallied 27 tackles, six tackles-for-loss, four sacks and a fumble recovery.

Senior safety Craig Slocum Jr. also made waves as he posted a vertical jump of 34.5 inches and receiver RaJae Johnson showed off his athleticism with a 10-foot-5-inch broad jump. Quarterback Jarret Doege also showed off his arm for the scouts, while the NCAA’s all-time leading tackler Carlton Martial and All-Sun Belt Tackle Austin Stidham also worked out for scouts at Pro Day. Kicker Brooks Buce and punter Mike Rivers also showed off their legs for scouts.

Carlton Martial works out in a cone drill for scouts.

Defensive tackle Will Choloh posted a 4.72 40-yard dash and 4.58 shuttle time, while Martial put together a 4.94 40-yard dash and 4.44 shuttle time. Johnson’s 40-time was 4.75 and his shuttle time was 4.49. Due to undergoing recent surgery, Stidham only competed in individual offensive line drills.

“Today went really good,” Choloh said. “We got to show the guys at the next level what we’re capable of and what they can expect when we walk in the building. I’m very excited.”

Martial said he doesn’t feel like any scouts have to wonder about what they would get if they bring him on their teams.

“You can ask around, you know what type of guy you’ll get,” Martial said. “A guy that’s all-in for the team and will do anything for the team. It’s about going out there and giving your best effort and play the cards you’re dealt.”

While not a single quarterback performed the bench press at the NFL Combine, Doege posted 19 reps at Troy’s Pro Day. Running back DK Billingsley posted a 4.82 40-yard dash and 4.40 shuttle time.

Receiver RaJae Johnson not only impressed scouts with his athleticism but also made some impressive catches during his workout.

Every player that participated at Troy’s Pro Day has the goal of making an NFL roster but the NFL isn’t the only option for players that want to continue their careers and Sumrall has had those discussions with his players.

“There was a CFL team here (today) and we have leagues like the USFL and XFL that are giving tremendous opportunities for guys to be able to continue to play and maybe open up doors for themselves and their careers,” Sumrall said. “We have a handful of guys right now, like Trevon Sanders and Brandon Silvers, that are currently playing in those leagues and that are keeping their dreams alive and playing at a high level. I think you see a guy like Brandon, who is playing at a really high level right now. Any opportunity you can get to keep playing the game you love is special.”

Players like Martial just want to play and don’t care where that is.

“Anywhere I can go to further my career and play ball, that’s what it’s about,” he emphasized. “It’s about the love of the game, I’ll play ball anywhere.”

The NFL Draft takes place April 27 through April 29.