Pro Day: What Separates The Boys From The Men

With the nation’s first collegiate national football championship and the Super Bowl over, many former college players have signed deals with agents and are looking ahead to the draft, but for some, there’s another important day coming up: Pro day.

With the nation's first collegiate national football championship and the Super Bowl over, many former college players have signed deals with agents and are looking ahead to the draft, but for some there's another important day coming up: Pro dayPro days are a unique opportunity for young players in the annual NFL cycle. These are workouts held at schools across the country and they give players a shot to impress scouts. For many, these workouts are their only chance to get into the league. It is an opportunity for college standouts who weren’t invited to the draft combine as well as players who had a bad day during that event.

With that said, if you see your school’s pro day as your window, make sure the second chance isn’t taken lightly because it could be the boost you need to get your name listed on an NFL roster.

Why are pro day workouts so important?

For some time, these workouts have given hungry players their shot at the NFL: a chance to strut their stuff, show off their athleticism and show teams what they can do. It’s sort of like a test given as part of a job interview – “We like you, but can you show us you can do this first?” While it isn’t a guarantee that you will earn an NFL contract due to your pro day performance, it is possible. Just take a look at past examples:

San Diego tight end, Antonio Gates, had never played a single snap of college football ahead of Kent State’s 2003 pro day. However, when he stepped on the field and displayed his athleticism, scouts were cautiously enamored with the young basketball player.

The Giants’ standout wide receiver, Victor Cruz, worked at his own UMass pro day in addition to one at Boston College after not getting invited to the draft combine. He went on to help push his team to a Super Bowl victory.

Texans running back, Arian Foster, actually had a pretty bad pro day, yet he’s still managed to make a name for himself as a decent player in the NFL.

Preparing for your school’s pro day

If you have a terrible pro day, you can always lean on a helpful agent to push your name a bit, but you should take this chance seriously and work hard to show teams what you’re made of. One year ago, twin brothers, Jamal and Jamil Merrell, as well as Jeremy Deering, spoke with NJ.com about their training at TEST Parisi Football Academy. The former Rutgers players noted that their offseason spent at TEST was different than past stretches of training between seasons.

“It’s totally different,” Jamil Merrell, a former defensive end, explained to the publication. “At the end of the day, it’s still football, but it’s not technically football. It’s the outside stuff of football. But at the end of the day, it’s still cutting, running, hand motion, so it’s still the same thing, just a different feeling to it.”

Every year, players from schools across the country culminate in a diaspora of their respective hometowns and training bases in order to prepare for the combine as well as their schools’ pro days. Marcus Mariota, for example, is already in San Diego getting ready for his own pro day, according to The Times-Picayune. Even the projected first or second pick in the entire draft is already well on his way to preparing for the last couple chances to display his skills to NFL scouts, why wouldn’t you be doing the same?

Finally, if you’re worried about paying for your training, this is where the help of your agent comes in. As long as you are able to make a good first impression in meeting with agents and were able to hammer out a deal with quality representation, paying for elite training ahead of your pro day won’t be a huge problem.

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Anthony R. Caruso is a business transactional attorney in New York and New Jersey with experience in structuring, negotiation and completion of legal deals involving business, entrepreneurs, athletes and performers.

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