Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Tajae Sharpe headlines annual UMass Pro Day Thursday at McGuirk Stadium

(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

All eyes were on former Massachusetts wide receiver Tajae Sharpe Thursday afternoon as  scouts from 19 NFL teams gathered at McGuirk Stadium to take in UMass football’s annual Pro Day.

Sharpe headlined a group of 16 former Minutemen who showcased their skills in a series of indoor and outdoor drills. Sharpe, who finished with 111 receptions and 1,319 receiving yards in his senior season with the Minutemen in 2015, is projected as a mid to late-round draft prospect in next month’s NFL Draft.

Following the event, the 6-foot-2, 194-pound receiver said he welcomed the added attention.

“Being at the East-West Bowl and the Senior Bowl and then going to the combine, I’m kind of used to that big stage,” Sharpe said. “Even here at UMass, we’ve played in some pretty big games. The more eyes the better.”

He added: “I feel like I’m definitely one of the best receivers in this draft and I’m confident in my abilities. When I get the opportunity I’m definitely going to show it.”

Sharpe did not participate in any running drills Thursday – including the 40-yard dash and 3-cone drill – due to a groin injury he suffered at the NFL Draft Combine in late February.

Instead, Sharpe said he wanted to focus on his route running and caught passes from fellow Pro Day participant and former UMass quarterback Blake Frohnapfel along with a handful of receivers and tight ends in the outdoor portion of the event.

“I didn’t want to come out here and tweak anything,” Sharpe said. “I just wanted to be 100 percent running my routes and show the scouts what I can do with my route running. That’s what I wanted to do.”

Sharpe ran a variety of routes and did not drop any of the 10 balls that Frohnapfel threw his way. He said he doesn’t believe not participating in the running drills Thursday will hurt him, as he’s confident in his decent 4.55 40-yard dash posting at last month’s combine.

Sharpe said he’s met with the majority of NFL organizations since the beginning of the pre-draft process, as he’s had the opportunity to do so at the East-West Shrine Game (St. Petersburg, Florida) and Senior Bowl (Mobile, Alabama) in January, as well at the combine held in Indianapolis.

During these interactions, Sharpe said he’s received generally positive feedback on what he does well and what he can improve on ahead of the April 28 draft.

“I’ve gotten some pretty good feedback but you never know what’s really going to happen until the big day, so I’m just trying to stay focused until then,” Sharpe said.

Despite these extensive discussions with NFL teams, Sharpe said he is unsure about where he may be drafted, citing the unpredictability of the whole process.

“Teams like to play games, teams talk to you and I heard that a lot of guys get drafted by teams that never really spoke to them,” Sharpe said. “Nobody knows what’s going to happen until your name is called.”

But if Sharpe’s name is called at the 81st annual NFL Draft, held in Chicago, it will be a moment that he said he has always dreamed of while watching the draft each year.

“I’ve tried to picture it so many times but I can’t really put a finger on it,” Sharpe said. “I don’t want to really think about it so when it comes my emotions will be natural.”

Anthony Chiusano can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @a_chiusano24.

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