There were some truly superlative performances turned in by former BYU athletes during pro day at the indoor practice facility in Provo on Friday:
- Offensive lineman Brady Christensen shattered the mark for the best broad jump by an offensive lineman, leaping 10-feet, 4-inches. The previous mark was 10-feet, 1-inch.
- Defensive lineman Khyiris Tonga officially tallied 35 reps on the bench press, although he put the bar up around 39 times. A few of the reps weren’t quite good enough to count unfortunately, but it was still a solid showing.
- Defensive back Chris Wilcox went out at ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds, only to see wide receiver Micah Simon top that number when he clocked in at 4.34 seconds. Wilcox then used that for motivation and crossed the line in 4.31 seconds on his second run.
Those performances were, of course, overshadowed by the showing of BYU’s superstar: Quarterback Zach Wilson.
Wilson didn’t do any of the measurable drills but went through a passing script with wide receivers Dax Milne, Aleva Hifo and Simon as well as tight end Matt Bushman.
“The goal of today was to kind of show kind of what makes me different, the type of throws that I can make that I feel like other guys don’t practice and don’t try,” Wilson said. “I just think that the game of football is changing, especially the quarterback position. Teams want someone who is athletic and mobile in the pocket and and can make all the throws but also extend and make things from different angles. It was good to work some of that today.”
Naturally, Wilson was quick to point out that he had some throws he wasn’t happy with.
“I missed a couple,” Wilson said. “There were too many balls on the ground. There were things I have to clean up.”
NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said on a Zoom call Friday afternoon that he felt like Wilson didn’t do anything to hurt himself while making some nice throws.
“Zach really threw the ball well, which was not a surprise,” Jeremiah said. “He’s a really, really gifted thrower from every platform, every angle. He missed some throws just with some accuracy stuff here or there, but the skill set that he has to make the throws he was making today is pretty unique. The only questions I had were, how big is he because we didn’t know. He came in at 6-foot-2, 214 pounds, which was great. The hand size is great. The only hurdle that remains is just the physical, just to make sure that he’s good structurally with the shoulder.”
But Wilson said one of the things he enjoyed most was being out there with his former Cougar teammates.
“I’m so happy for these guys,” Wilson said. “They’re all living out their dreams and you can definitely tell they all put in the work. We got some crazy numbers today. Guys did some awesome, awesome things and I know scouts are gonna be all over those. It’s great to be out here with them one last time.”
One of the benefits of having a player at Wilson’s level who the consensus indicates will be Top 5 selection in the upcoming NFL draft is that it draws even more attention to the BYU program. There were 31 NFL teams represented at the Cougar pro day (only missing the Los Angeles Rams) with many having coaches and general managers in attendance as well as scouts.
“One thing I think was a huge advantage for those guys is to get them in front of some big time teams and hope that those guys would give them a chance,” Wilson said. “They’ll see the reason for a lot of my success at BYU was that I had some great players around me.”
Offensive lineman Tristen Hoge said the athletes at pro day are appreciative of the opportunity that Wilson’s position provided for them as well.
“It’s really big, knowing that all the eyes are going to be on us,” Hoge said. “We’re very fortunate to have a quarterback of his skill set to bring these eyes in and it helps benefit a lot of us. Some guys may not have had those eyes to begin with. I’m really happy that it brought it in because any exposure is good exposure.”
Jeremiah believes that having a player like Wilson not only helps the current Cougar draft class but will also help BYU have more players drafted down the road.
“They’ve had a lot of really good players that have come out of there,” Jeremiah said. “I think the NFL knows when you get a BYU kid you are getting a really tough kid. The best thing that can happen for a program, in my opinion, is when you have a marquee quarterback because it just gives you so much exposure. To have an elite player like Zach, they’re going to be able to recruit off of him for a long time going forward. That’s not just to the quarterback position but every position because it just gives them so much more attention to the school and to the program.”