Kent State football seniors put their skills on display

Former+Kent+State+wide+receiver+Ernest+Calhoun+participates+in+the+shuttle+run+during+Kent+States+NFL+Pro-Day+at+the+Kent+State+Field+House+on+Friday%2C+March+24%2C+2017.

Former Kent State wide receiver Ernest Calhoun participates in the shuttle run during Kent State’s NFL Pro-Day at the Kent State Field House on Friday, March 24, 2017.

Jack Kopanski

With just over a month until the 2017 NFL Draft, Kent State football held its annual Pro Day on Friday at the Field House.

Nine seniors showcased their skills in front of scouts from numerous NFL teams, including the Cleveland Browns, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants, among others.

Highlighting those players in attendance was last season’s Mid-American Conference-leading tackler, safety Nate Holley. Holley racked up 80 solo tackles in 2016 while contributing a sack and a pass defended in nine games played.

This was the first time Holley — who was found not guilty on kidnapping and assault charges in February — worked out in front of scouts. He did not receive an invitation to last month’s scouting combine. Holley still has another court date scheduled for mid-April to face three charges related to the original incident.

“I felt pretty good,” Holley said. “I felt pretty smooth. I think we did what we set out to accomplish.”

After having months off between football season and their Pro Day, the preparation isn’t always physical.

“It was more mental preparation than it was physical,” said defensive lineman Terence Waugh.

While all nine seniors are vying for attention from scouts in the hopes of being drafted this April, there was no blue-chip prospect like Kent has had in the past to draw in a larger crowd of scouts.

“It was a bit lighter than it’s been in past years in terms of scouts,” said Aaron Chimenti, assistant director of football at Kent State. “We don’t have a Dri Archer-type player this year.”

Holley posted a 33.5-inch vertical jump and ran an unofficial 4.58-second 40-yard dash. The team leader in the 40 was defensive back Najee Murray, who ran an unofficial 4.44 and had an all-around strong day throughout the drills. Other participants’ times ranged from 4.54 seconds to 5.25 seconds.

Although there weren’t as many eyes on the players as is in the past, this opportunity to work directly with NFL scouts is something these seniors relished.

“It was fun,” Holley said. “It was nice. I’ve been anticipating this day, I’ve been waiting for this day. It was nice to finally be here and be able to go out and do what I do. Play some football.”

Jack Kopanski is an assigning editor, contact him at [email protected]