TAMPA, Fla. — More than a dozen scouts watched as a group of former USF football standouts tried to impress them at their Pro Day workout. The pandemic canceled the tradition of the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, so athletes have been hosting on-campus workouts for team personnel.
Despite the high stakes, former Bulls quarterback Noah Johnson isn't letting the pressure get to him.
"You've had a great career. You've come this far. God ain't gonna leave you here. He's going to keep persevering you, keep prevailing you," Johnson said after his workout. "Just stay relaxed. Come out here and have a good time."
Receiver Devontres Dukes wanted to put to rest any thoughts that he didn't have the tools to compete at the next level.
"Some guys had me as not strong enough, not fast enough, not quick enough. I think I came out here and I showcased all of that," Duke said. "I gave out everything that I had, so that's all I could ever ask for."
Defensive back Mike Hampton ran the 40-yard dash with a heavy wrap on his left hamstring, but he wasn't going to let that slow him down.
"I'm a hard worker. I can fight through anything. I hurt it two weeks ago," Hampton said. "I've been rehabbing ever since. It's not 100%, but I do want to show them I can still run a little bit." Hampton also bench-pressed 225 pounds 22 times, which is a high number for a defensive back.
Fellow defensive back K.J. Sails earned the nickname "The Mayor" for his community involvement in the Tampa area. One NFL scout jokingly called him "The Governor" when the two spoke in person.
"It was kinda shocking to hear him say that, but it was a blessing at the same time," Sails laughed. "I'm thankful to impact my community because this community means a lot to me."
Sails said whoever signs him will get a high-character guy who knows how to lead.
"I'm not just a football player. I'm more than a football player. I'm going to impact the community wherever I'm at, wherever I end up, while still making an impact here in Tampa."
USF hasn't had a player drafted by the NFL since 2018, when Deadrin Senat and Marquez Valdes-Scantling were taken in the third and fifth rounds, respectively.
Cleveland will host the 2021 NFL Draft. It starts Thursday, April 29, and runs through Saturday, May 1.