It’s not often that a Division I-AA school gathers much attention during a Pro Day. Then again, most Division I-AA schools don’t have players projected to be picked in the first two rounds of the National Football League Draft.
Several NFL scouts were in attendance to watch offensive lineman Vladimir Ducasse perform at the Massachusetts football team’s Pro Day at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. It was the second school in the entire state to hold an event for potential draft picks and free agents (Boston College was the other).
This year’s Pro Day was the highest attended in Amherst in the past 10 years, with scouts from almost every team in attendance.
The day also featured 12 other players who were a mix of 2009 Minutemen and alums that are looking for invites into rookie camp. Around 20 NFL hopefuls from the surrounding schools in Massachusetts participated in the drills as well, who were looking to use the attention Ducasse brought in to make their own case for a team.
Other current players in attendance included safety Jeromy Miles, fullback Chris Zardas, tailback Tony Nelson, wide receivers Victor Cruz, Jeremy Horne and Joe Sanford in addition to defensive linemen Brandon Collier, Michael Hanson and Kyle Harrington.
Recent UMass graduates, Sean Smalls, Ben Coblyn, Ian Jorgensen, R. J. Cobbs and Courtney Robinson were also in attendance as well as Holy Cross quarterback Dominic Randolph. Robinson signed with the Philadelphia as a free agent after last year’s draft before being released by the team in early August.
Although Ducasse knew that most of the clubs came to see him, he believes his teammates deserve a chance to make an NFL roster as well.
“All those guys were good throughout the whole season,” Ducasse said. “We had scouts looking at film on them the whole season, so it’s like a group thing. It’s not only one person.”
Despite the buzz surrounding his chances of making the NFL, Ducasse describes the process as fun, even with all of the poking and prodding he has dealt with the past few months.
“That’s pretty much my job now so I’ve gotten used to it,” he said about having to go through several measurements and physical tests.
Part of the reason for the Haitian native’s calm demeanor throughout the process is the preparation he had developing as a football player. When he was in high school, he had to go through similar tests in order to get interest from different colleges.
Former UMass coach Don Brown and current coach Kevin Morris have been holding Junior Pro Days for the younger players, which simulates NFL workouts in order to familiarize themselves with a pre-draft workout regimen.
Another reason for his relaxed approach to workouts is the fact that the question isn’t if he’ll be drafted, but by whom and where he will go. Those questions cause him more excitement than nervousness.
“You have to be excited,” Ducasse said. “You can’t be nervous because it’s a long process so you have to take it as it comes… I’m happy just to be in a situation like [mine].”
He also felt the most comfortable at McGuirk since he got to workout where he’s used to playing football. While he didn’t think that made too much of a difference compared to other workouts, wide receiver Jeremy Horne said he was much more relaxed playing in Amherst than he was during Pro Day at Boston College.
The 2010 NFL Draft will take place from April 22-24.
Adam Miller can be reached at email@example.com.