I feel like I did great. I wanted to get a couple more throws in, but one of the scouts told me, they’d seen everything they needed to see — velocity, arm strength and accuracy. —Former Utah quarterback Troy Williams
SALT LAKE CITY — Pro Day is an experience unlike anything else.
NFL hopefuls train for months for moments that could make or break their careers. For some it is their only opportunity to impress NFL scouts, while others have senior bowl, NFL Combine and private workouts to convince teams to take a chance on them.
Thursday morning, about 14 former Utah players participated in Pro Day at the U.’s practice facility. Every NFL team had a representative at the 3½-hour event that included body measurements, strength testing, jumping ability, agility and position drills and, of course, the 40-yard dash.
Among the fastest was former Utah quarterback Troy Williams, who would have been the fastest quarterback at the NFL Combine. The fastest quarterback at the Combine was Quinton Flowers, South Florida, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.63 seconds.
“I feel really good about that,” he said of his 4.42 time, which is an unofficial time as the U. doesn’t release official stats. “I feel like I did great. I wanted to get a couple more throws in, but one of the scouts told me, they’d seen everything they needed to see — velocity, arm strength and accuracy.” Williams threw well in a 15-minute offensive display that included two impressive catches from his boyhood friend, Darren Carrington II. Both men said that while Pro Day is difficult to prepare for, knowing each other so well was an advantage.
“Troy put it out there,” Carrington said smiling. “(His relationship with Williams) is pretty much why I came here in the first place. (Today) was just us coming out here and playing on the playground at a park or something. Troy has one of the best balls out there. We were on point today.”
"Carrington injured his foot in the UCLA game (Nov. 3), and it messed up the second half of the season for me," Williams said. "It was a heartbreak for me because it was my senior year.”
He said he was still in pain at the NFL Combine, and that impacted how he ran his routes. “Finally my foot is feeling a lot better, and I’m getting back to my normal self,” he said. “It’s nice to show the scouts, show everybody what I’m actually capable of.”
He said this is the first week he’d felt 100 percent, and being injured meant he could do very little training before Thursday’s Pro Day. The injury, however, has taught him patience.
“This foot made me take a step back,” he said, “and it’s been good to work on my patience.”
Defensive linemen Filipo Mokofisi, Kylie Fitts and Lowell Lotulelei all felt good about their performances, but they also admitted this kind of thing doesn’t really predict quality football players. “I came out here and did my best,” Mokofisi said. “Now it’s time to play some real football. Personally, I don’t think any of it translates to the field.”
Both got advice on how to approach it from their relatives and friends who’ve participated in the process.
“It was good,” Lotulelei said. “I was looking forward to getting it over with. It’s a lot of stuff we probably won’t be doing, other than the position work.” He said his brother, Star Lotulelei, who just signed with the Bills, told him what to expect, but the most comforting aspect of Thursday’s experience was participating with his teammates.
“It was good being with Flip and Kylie,” Lowell said. “You just kind of forget everyone is watching you, and try to encourage whoever is doing the drill at the moment.”
Offensive lineman Salesi “Leka” Uhatafe said he used the same strategy in preparing for Thursday’s drills as he’s used to getting ready for games.
“Picturing what I want to do on the field, using mental imagery,” he said. “I talked to a lot of guys who did this last year, and they were saying, ‘You know, you only do this once, so kind of embrace it if you can. Take it all in and have fun with it.’”
He said it’s “very different” than a game, however.
“It’s more eyes on you,” he said. “The position I play, I’m rarely ever seen. So I was embracing that spotlight for the little time that I did.”
Unofficially, the best standing vertical went to running back/slot receiver Troy McCormick, who elicited audible gasps from his teammates when he jumped 39 inches. Running back Jordan Howard had the most bench press reps with 22, while Uhatafe was second with 20. Defensive back Boobie Hobbs and Troy Williams were the fastest with 4.4 and 4.42 times in the 40, respectively. Carrington had an impressive outing with 35 1/5 inches in the standing vertical and a 4.48 40-yard dash.
Correction: Two pictures in the photo gallery that originally ran with this story incorrectly identified the subject as Sunia Tauteoli. The pictures were of Kylie Fitts.