Former dawgs sniffing NFL opportunities

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

MyCole Pruitt and Malcom Agnew are not the only former Saluki football players with sights on the National Football League.

Thor Hadfield, Courtney Richmond, LaSteven McKinney and Ken Malcome are all using the offseason, combines and pro days to impress NFL scouts.

None of them played in showcase games, but they do not see that as a disadvantage.

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Hadfield, a long snapper and former captain, said making the NFL is about consistency.

“It’s not one big game. It’s doing it right every time,” he said. “I’m lifting, gaining weight and snapping.”

Hadfield said it is difficult to stand out among long snappers, but his passion for the game is next to none.

Next for Hadfield is the Coach Zauner College Senior Specialist Combine in Phoenix beginning Feb. 27. He said as long as he can impress one scout or coach, he will be able to live out a dream he has had since he was 3 years old.

“I don’t want to sell myself or my talents short,” he said. “I’m confident in my abilities and I think I can compete at that level.”

While Hadfield is working out with SIU’s head strength coach Clete McLeod, his Saluki teammates are training outside of Carbondale.

Since January, former Saluki cornerback Courtney Richmond, who finished his career with 136 tackles and 3 interceptions, has been working out at D1 Memphis Sports Training and Therapy in Collierville, Tenn. He signed with an agent in St. Louis.

Richmond, who will attend SIU’s pro day March 17 at Saluki Stadium, said not playing in a showcase game like Pruitt and Agnew makes him train harder. He does not think the NFL Draft is a possibility, but that signing as a free agent is.

Richmond is open to playing in the Canadian Football League as well. If neither work, he said he would go to graduate school.

Former Saluki wide receiver LaSteven McKinney is working out at Acceleration Sports Performance in Naperville and Lisle.

“I’ve been in Naperville working on power and technique in the morning,” he said. “Then I go up to Lisle to work on mechanics.”

At SIU, McKinney also played running back, wildcat quarterback, punt and kick returner. He finished his SIU career with 2,786 all-purpose yards, 11 receiving touchdowns and 1 rushing touchdown.

McKinney signed with NFL and CFL agent Allan Cunanan of Maximum Sports Agency out of Silicon Valley, Calif. McKinney will also attend SIU’s pro day and is deciding if he wants to attend Northwestern’s and or University of Illinois’.

He said depending on how his pro days go, the NFL Draft is still a possibility. McKinney is also open to playing in different leagues to get to the NFL.

“Canadian and Arena football are the two next steps I’m willing to take,” he said.

Former SIU and University of Georgia running back Ken Malcome–who had a combined 788 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns in his collegiate career–is without an agent, but has talked to scouts.

Malcome will attend Northwestern’s and SIU’s pro days. He said he often asks his cousin, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dwayne Harris, for his advice and opinion about the NFL.

“I have my cousin and some friends who can help me train,” Malcome said. “They know what I need to do to make it to the NFL and they are helping me reach that.”

Malcome said earning a spot on a team will come down to whether or not he can make himself stand out.

“Any running back can run the ball–it’s your job,” he said. “My blocking stands out and scouts have seen that, not everyone can block.”

Malcome said he is also open to playing in the CFL. He said Pruitt and Agnew will bring a lot of scouts to SIU’s pro day, and he needs to be ready to take advantage of it.

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269.

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