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
  • 150723-Lowndes_Brooks5.jpg Winding Down

    In its final 7-on-7 test of the summer, Randy McPherson was pleased with how the Lowndes football team looked Wednesday morning.
    Brooks County coach Maurice Freeman, on the other hand, was worried about the kind of hole the Trojans would have dug for themselves at Martin Stadium against the Vikings and Lafayette (Fla.) had it been a real game.

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Grable signs with Tampa Bay

    Another former Valdosta State football player joined the ranks of the National Football League when linebacker Jeremy Grable signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesday morning.

    July 23, 2014

  • MaryAlice.jpg Just Keep Running

    Forrest Gump once said, "I used to run to get to where I was going, but I never thought it would take me anywhere." In the case of 18 year-old Mary Alice Smoot, anywhere is Tampa, Fla.
    After four years of unparalleled success running cross-country at Valwood, Smoot will continue running competitively next season at the University of Tampa.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10U ELITE World Series Champs.jpg DKSA Elite win USSSA Global World Series

    DKSA ELITE just continues to win, the 10U team’s latest victory came in the USSSA Global World Series held in Destin, Fla. July 8-12.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lowndes_McPherson.jpg Milestones on tap for upcoming season

    Some milestones are destined to occur, like when Georgia Christian hosts David Emanuel on Aug. 22 in the Generals’ first varsity football game since the late 1960s.
    Others will have to wait and see what continues to take shape come Friday when teams can begin fall practice, and especially Aug. 1 when teams can suit up in pads for the first time, such as can Valdosta win its record 24th state title, or can Lowndes capture its fourth state championship under Randy McPherson, or can Valwood and coach Ashley Henderson play in its third straight GISA state championship game?
    As we start to find out the answers to those questions in just a few short weeks — the regular season is just 31 days away — there should be a few more milestones for area coaches to mark 2014 right along with the Generals getting back on the gridiron.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ACC_Jimbo.jpg Back on top

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • ACC_Petrino.jpg Petrino returns to Louisville for first ACC season

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Braves_Marlins JUpton.jpg Jones lifts Marlins past Braves in 10

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ant Smith.JPG Anthony Smith ready for new test in college

    Smith was a three-year starter as a Wildcat and quickly worked his way up as a leader on both the defense and the team as a whole.

    July 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • Wildcats participate in national 7-on-7 tournament

    The Valdosta High Wildcats have been working extremely hard this summer to prepare for the football season. Summer workouts and a plethora of 7-on-7 tournaments and competitions have kept the Wildcats busy.

    July 20, 2014

Blazers Blog