Pro Day on Tuesday marked the last opportunity for former Saluki football players to play on the turf of Saluki Stadium.
NFL hopefuls swarmed the field to perform for scouts from the Houston Texans, New York Jets, Chicago Bears and Cincinnati Bengals as teammates gathered to watch.
Outside linebacker Tyler Williamson said being on the field again was surreal.
“I haven’t been gone long, so it’s not far back in my memory,” he said. “But it’s home, it’s comfortable. It was great to see all my old teammates again.”
Tight end MyCole Pruitt and running back Malcolm Agnew gathered the most scout attention, which was pivotal for other players to take advantage of.
Agnew said Pruitt brought more attention to the Pro Day, but he was happy to help teammates be recognized.
“It was good for other teammates to get exposure,” he said. “I hope everyone gets a chance, because it’s not easy to make it.”
Pruitt came to SIU’s Pro Day to do route running and blocking drills, but did not participate in drills he had completed during the NFL Scouting Combine.
Pruitt, who was happy with his Pro Day performance, said not competing in those drills decreased pressure on him.
“I could come out here and focus on running my routes and catching the ball,” he said.
Pruitt said he improved on his blocking, which he previously admitted needed work.
Agnew focused on versatility out of the backfield and said he wanted to show off his athleticism.
“I wanted to catch the ball cleanly and crisply and prove that I hustle every day,” he said. “I feel like I did that today.”
Agnew said he has talked with scouts from the Texans, Jets and Dallas Cowboys but is hoping to get individual workouts with teams before the Draft on April 30.
Without official results, Agnew was told he ran either a high 4.40 or low 4.50 in the 40-yard dash.
“It puts me in the running,” he said. “Not many backs ran 4.40, and a lot were in the 4.60s. If I was in the 4.50s, I’ll be happy.”
After suffering an ankle injury on Oct. 18 against Youngstown State, Agnew missed the final four games of a season where he had five 100-plus yard rushing performances in seven games. Agnew said it is a blessing to be healthy again and he was happy to avoid surgery for the injury.
Long snapper Thor Hadfield said Pro Day was an opportunity for him to perform in front of scouts after attending the College Senior Specialist’s Combine on Feb. 27 in Arizona.
“I put a lot into this day and performing in front of NFL scouts,” he said.
Hadfield signed with agent Jason Emert of LeConte Sports on Monday—a goal he wanted to accomplish before Pro Day—and said now the process turns into a waiting game.
Hadfield has been in contact with both Canadian Football League and NFL teams, but his first choice is still the NFL.
“I can compete at that level,” he said. “I’ve got the size and ability, I just need to get in front of the right people.”
Hadfield is considering attending CFL tryouts—depending on dates and feedback from Pro Day—for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Montreal Allouettes in April, and has heard from NFL teams asking for his measurements and snap times. He has yet to practice with a NFL team.
Hadfield said Emert, a former punter at SIU in 2005 and 2006, stood out because he appreciates and understands what it takes to be a specialist.
Emert said Hadfield is a complete package as a player and a person. He does not doubt Hadfield will have a chance to compete for a roster spot.
“You have to be able to sell someone,” he said. “Thor is a locker room guy… first and foremost he’s a good guy and then a good athlete and good player.”
Brent Meske can be contacted at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269.