If the post-pro day media Zoom call was any indication, the former BYU players who were part of the event on Friday have certainly drawn a lot of attention.
There were between 40 and 65 participants in the teleconference, with questions coming from individuals from as far away as Brazil and Argentina.
Yes, many of those media representatives were likely focused on quarterback Zach Wilson, who is projected to be one of the top selections in April’s NFL draft.
But Wilson was only available for 10 minutes on the call and the other ex-Cougars fielded plenty of questions about which teams they had talked to and how they felt about their draft chances.
“I’ve talked to a good amount of teams,” defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga said in the teleconference. “I expect to hear from them after pro day, which means they were able to see how I was able to move. Everything has been like this with COVID-19, not being able to see them. After today, hopefully I’ll get some more talks.”
Each of the athletes have tried to do everything they can to put themselves in position to be at their best for pro day. Tonga, for example, worked on getting his weight down.
“When I went off to Florida (to train, I dropped from around 335 pounds all the way down to like 310,” Tonga said. “I didn’t feel too comfortable being that light so I tried to gain my weight back in a healthy way. I got back to 325 and I’m pretty happy with this weight, of the way I’m moving. I feel good with it.”
Cornerback Chris Wilcox, on the other hand, knew that speed was something he wanted to show at pro day.
“That was that was the goal all along,” Wilcox said. “I think the fastest I had hit during training was like 4.40, so I knew when I saw all the coaches in front of me that the adrenaline was going to be pumping. I wanted to show my speed and show them that I’m physical. I could be a press-man corner for a team. The team that gets me is going to get a dog.”
The measurable numbers get a lot of emphasis but offensive lineman Brady Christensen reiterated that the strongest résumé is that the players did on the field.
“Obviously, the film is your product,” Christensen said. “That’s the most important. That’s what you put out and that’s what teams are looking at. But I think pro day can definitely make teams reevaluate and maybe rethink your position — or go back and watch film again and see maybe something they missed. I think both are very important, but definitely film I think is the most important.”
That might be considered a disadvantage for tight end Matt Bushman, who was hurt during 2020 and thus didn’t get the same opportunities to make a splash as the Cougars enjoyed a successful season.
Bushman, however, said that the feedback he has gotten at this point in the process indicates that teams have seen enough to know his potential.
“Not playing last year might have an impact on where I go in the draft but I’ve talked to plenty of teams and they’ve said that I have film from the past,” Bushman said. “They know how to analyze film and they know I can play. The biggest question was my Achilles tendon and I was able to show them I’m back and I’ll be ready by training camp or preseason. Whatever comes first, I’ll be ready for it.”
These athletes are intense competitors who know that everything they did — or didn’t do — might have some impact on their future. That made for some high-pressure moments.
“It’s a fun time but it’s just so different because it was so quiet in there,” wide receiver Dax Milne said. “Usually when we’re performing like that we’ve got fans or teammates cheering us on. It’s definitely a good opportunity to show that you can handle the pressure and execute.”
Different players handled that intensity in different ways. Christensen, for example, said he was trying to relax to be at his best.
“My goal today was just to go out and be me and have fun,” Christensen said. “I was I was getting into it with the crowd, with my boys and my teammates and just having a good time with them out there. That’s what I really wanted to do because I knew if I was having a good time I would test the best. So it was a fun time.”