Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

March 19, 2013

Blazers work out for NFL

19 teams attend VSU Pro Day

VALDOSTA — Call it a job interview. Call it an audition. Call it whatever you want, but for those in action, it was the biggest day of their football careers.

With scouts and coaches from 19 NFL teams on hand, seniors members from the 2012 national championship football team at Valdosta State University, along with two members of the 2011 team and five players from colleges and universities from throughout the state, participate in the largest Pro Day in Valdosta State football history.

“It is great,” Valdosta State head coach David Dean said. “Number one, to see these guys come back and to see the turnout of the NFL guys. There are 19 teams represented, a couple of offensive line coaches are here. That says a lot about our program and our kids.”

Among the Blazer NFL prospects that worked out Monday were offensive linemen Edmund Kugbila and Ryan Schraeder, and defenders Matt Pierce and Ryan Smith.

All four knew the importance of the workouts on Monday morning, which included bench press, broad jump and vertical jump testing in the weight room, along with the 40-yard dash,

3-cone drill and the 20-yard shuffle on the practice field.

“I mean it is a real big workout,” said Pierce, who has been training in the Atlanta area with former Atlanta Falcons cornerback David Irons. “I feel like I could have done a lot better, but, at the end of the day, being out in front of these scouts is always good. Hopefully they will see something they like.”

For Kugbila, he said the day was not as stressful as February’s NFL Combine, a large scouting platform where the nation’s top professional football prospects are invited to workout and interview with teams.

“It is not as a stressful, not at all,” said Kugbila, who admitted he has had interaction with nearly every NFL team this offseason. “(It’s nice) being back here with all the people that I know and that are here to support me.”

While Kugbila got the experience of participating in the NFL Combine last month, others didn’t, and Monday was their major chance to prove a worth in the NFL.

“Overall, I was pleased with the results,” Schraeder said. “As a competitor, I feel like I can always do better. But there were some things that I didn’t expect, but besides that, everything was what I expected it to be.”

Schraeder joined the Blazers prior to the 2011 season and was named an All-American left tackle both seasons. Since helping lead the Blazers to the national championship in December, he has been living in Gwinnett County, working at Competitive Edge Sports in Duluth. At CES, Schraeder has been working out with current and prospective players, including San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

“It’s been a grind and I have learned a lot in the last two months,” said Schraeder, who is a near lock to get at least a free agent contract into a training camp, largely because of his mammoth, yet quick, 6-foot-7 build.

“It’s been a great experience. I have no regrets….You realize a guy like (Kaepernick), he’s pretty far up there and he is still a person, down to Earth and will talk to anybody. You can tell what sets him a part from other guys is his work ethic.”

Of the NFL personnel represented Monday, which included a scout from the Atlanta Falcons, was New England Patriots assistant head coach/offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, a 31-year NFL coaching veteran and is responsible for coaching the players that keep future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady standing upright during games.

Scarnecchia worked both Kugbila and Schraeder for close to half-an-hour, working on various offensive line drills in front of the other scouts and personnel from throughout the league.

“It is crazy,” Kugbila said. “Me and Schraeder, we had a chance to talk to (Scarnecchia) before we began. We were asking him about Tom Brady, their offensive line, free agents and stuff. Having a guy with that type of knowledge, I’m just trying to soak it up.”

While he didn’t work out, former Lowndes Viking turned Florida State Seminole and Valdosta State Blazer, Greg Reid was in attendance Monday. Reid said he will workout today at Florida State’s Pro Day in Tallahassee.

On Monday, Reid was a spectator, supporting his former high school teammate and former West Georgia Wolves defensive back Kelley Dawsey, and his former VSU teammates.

Reid, who tore his ACL just prior to the start of the 2012 season, said his knee “feels good” and that he is just waiting for a chance to prove himself on the professional stage. He should be cleared for contact drills after a doctor’s appointment next month.

Dawsey was one of five players that attended Monday’s pro day that were not from VSU. Three players from Shorter University and one from LaGrange College also participated.

“I kind of hurt my hamstring a little bit, so I don’t think I got the 40 time I wanted,” said Dawsey, the former Lowndes Viking. “I still have the opportunity. I just need to keep grinding hard, and perform well from here on out.”

With other players flocking to VSU, Dean said it showed the state of the program and how successful the Blazers have been.

“A lot of these other schools don’t have pro days at their schools, so their coaches call us and ask us if they can get it,” Dean said. “Obviously we are going to help kids if we can, especially a guy like Kelley Dawsey, who is a local kid. As long as these NFL guys don’t mind them coming in to work out, we are going to provide them that opportunity.”

ith the draft still a month away, players, like Kugbila, will work out individually for teams, looking to improve their draft stock even further. The NFL Draft will be held April 25-27 in New York City.

Text Only
Local Sports
  • Nolin settling in as new VSU soccer coach

    Meet Rebecca Nolin, VSU's new soccer coach.

    July 28, 2014

  • Induction Crowd: Honorees were genuine, down to earth

    More than 48,000 people gathered under the scorching sun at The Clark Sports Center for the 75th National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Sunday, including one woman who carpooled to the event with more than 40 other people.

    July 28, 2014

  • Braves trio all business at inductions

    The Braves seemed almost businesslike in their approach -- something you might expect from a trio that won so consistently.
    Managers Joe Torre and Tony La Russa also remained calm and collected throughout their addresses.
    Frank Thomas took care of the emotional side, his voice breaking and his eyes moist during a heartfelt speech Sunday at the Clark Sports Center.

    July 28, 2014

  • Cooperstown Merchants: Weekend was a success

    Cooperstown merchants are elated about the exceptionally prosperous Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, several storekeepers said Sunday.

    During an afternoon lull in business, when the National Baseball Hall of Fame's induction ceremony was taking place, area shop and restaurant owners took a quick breath, reflected and expressed satisfaction with their sales for the weekend.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hall of Famers thank fathers for stepping up to the plate

    Great ballplayers thanking their dads at a Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is about as original as oil and vinegar are to an Italian restaurant.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hall_Maddux.jpg Hall of Braves

    The weird part was that Jeff Idelson didn't take a lot of time to answer.
    "Is there any word or description that unifies this class?" was the query posed to the National Baseball Hall of Fame's president.
    "The common thread among the six is profound humility," Idelson said of former managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa, and former players Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, all of whom will be inducted into the Hall today. "I don't think I realized that fully until I spent time with them in December. It was uncanny to me, for the cumulative star power in that group, the humility among them. I think that's felt really strongly with baseball fans."

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • Hall_Cox.jpg Cox’s willingness to defend players stands out to local coaches

    Bobby Cox will be able to add Hall of Famer to his resume when he is inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame today in Cooperstown, N.Y.
    But the former Atlanta Braves manager’s legacy will remain the same to area baseball coaches: his willingness to defend his players.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Valwood_Henderson.jpg Area teams hoping to get over the hump

    Past successes lead to present and future expectations.
    That’s the task faced by pretty much all 12 area high school football coaches present Saturday at In The Game Magazine’s South Georgia Football media day at the Holiday Inn conference center.
    It’s a task that also has the elite group searching for answers as to how to get past the state championship road block in recent years, aside from Valwood’s GISA Class AA crown in 2012.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • VHS little cats camp 1.jpg Valdosta hosts fundamental camp for ‘Little ’Cats’

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • VHS practice1.jpg Getting Back to Work

    Friday officially began the 2014 season for the Valdosta Wildcats and both the offense and defense came out and made statements.
    After holding spring and summer workouts, the Wildcats will practice four more times without pads before beginning full pad practice next week.

    July 26, 2014 2 Photos

Blazers Blog