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Tom Smart,
BYU assistant head coach Ed Lamb talks to the media, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, in Provo.
We always want to see more guys have more opportunities in the NFL. We always see in our guys the potential of what they can offer an NFL team. —Ed Lamb

Fred Warner is on the “Prove It Tour” as he attended a minicamp this weekend with the San Francisco 49ers, who drafted him more than a week ago.

But Warner’s been on this tour all his life.

What does it mean for BYU that Warner got drafted? What does it mean that any college has a guy drafted? The state of Utah had just two of its former high school football players drafted: Dalton Schultz, a tight end out of Stanford, and Washington State quarterback Luke Falk. And what does that mean?

It means talent, plus hard work — the kind of work that isn’t seasonal — the kind that really counts.

Warner and Utah’s Kylie Fitts proved themselves worthy of the NFL draft long before their pro days. Although Fitts had a career interrupted by injuries, he was good enough to get picked by Chicago.

Warner, a four-star athlete out of high school in California, did nothing but live up to every accolade thrown his way during his collegiate career. From being a team leader to playmaker, he did it all.

When the Bears drafted Fitts, Ute defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley tweeted out traits he loved about him. He said the Bears are getting “an absolute stud” in Fitts. “Dude has faced adversity time and time again and battled back. A ton of athleticism matched with an unconquerable spirit.”

This past week, I asked BYU assistant head coach Ed Lamb what this year’s NFL draft should teach the Cougar program, albeit only Warner was drafted. Lamb had four players drafted during his short stint as head coach at Southern Utah.

His answer wasn’t surprising. He used a four-letter word: Work.

Lamb has a certain formula when he recruits, something he picked up while working with Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego and one he absolutely embraced at SUU. He had to find players that may have slid under the radar and develop them to be NFL-worthy. He’s not always going to sign a Fred Warner.

“We always want to see more guys have more opportunities in the NFL. We always see in our guys the potential of what they can offer an NFL

Lamb explained his inside views on draftable athletes.

“The thing that stood out to me about Fred is we had several other draftable guys on the team whose performance level, effort level, training level kind peaked and valleyed while they were here," Lamb said.

“The thing that I’ve noticed consistently over the years whether at BYU or elsewhere is that is isn’t really about putting together a few months of training and dieting for a great pro day," he said. "Everybody in the country does that and everybody looks great on pro day and gets remarkable times and everything. But the guys who are really prized and valued on draft day or as free agents are the ones who have great video, guys who took care of their bodies, who slept enough, ate well enough and disciplined themselves to actually perform throughout their career, or at least every time they got the opportunity.”

Every program wants their players recognized, either with the draft or free agent opportunities like former Cougar safety Dan Sorensen with Kansas City.

Said Lamb, “From that perspective, I’m disappointed other players didn’t get the opportunity to be drafted, but I also think it’s a lesson for our young players. On a written test for our current players, we asked the question, ‘Which of last year’s seniors worked consistently the hardest and were the most dedicated to their craft?’ Fred Warner was consistently at the top of that list. It was good to see him be the one that got the opportunity.”

The veteran coach said that some players make a mad dash to get themselves ready, but the real winners do it all along.

“Everywhere I’ve been, even at SUU where there aren’t as many draft prospects, from January to March the seniors come back for pro day, and the underclassmen are kind of in awe of what the seniors have done with their bodies. But the guys who really made it were already like that, rocked up fast and fit and always treated their bodies like it was their most valuable possession,” said Lamb.

“Fred didn’t change much from midseason to when pro day came around. He was always fit, strong, fast, durable and healthy. He took care of himself.”

So, that’s the bottom line.

Want to be drafted?

It starts way before seasons begin, and it never ends.

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