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Provo • As the BYU football player with the most realistic shot at getting picked in April's NFL Draft, outside linebacker Alani Fua approached the Cougars' Pro Day on Friday with a sense of calm, having gotten the jitters out as BYU's lone invitee to the 2015 NFL Combine in Indianapolis last February.
Still, the 6-foot-5, 238-pound father of two had one last little thing to prove that he is faster than the 4.73-second time he posted in the 40-yard dash at the combine.
"Mission accomplished," Fua said after running something around a 4.5 in the 40 at BYU's Indoor Practice Facility in front of representatives of at least 28 NFL teams. "I felt like I improved everything that I wanted to come out and improve. So it was a successful day."
Pro Day times are unofficial and mostly just guesstimates. The NFL scouts gather around the finishing line with handheld timers and then share their times with other scouts and come up with an average for each participant, but are generally reticent to share the information with the media or family members.
"I was hearing 4.5 [from scouts], which is what I was expecting to run at the combine," Fua said. "I don't know what happened over there, but I definitely made up for it today."
Fua's agent, Jack Scharf, was also pleased with his client's performance, and quickly replied when it was suggested the Californian might be drafted, "Oh, he will be drafted."
A total of 17 players worked out for scouts on Friday 15 BYU players who recently exhausted their eligibility, and former Cougar linebackers Bryan Kehl and Uona Kaveinga, who are trying to get back into the NFL.
Turnout from NFL scouts, who raved once again about BYU's Pro Day setup some saying it is as good as the NFL's in Indianapolis was high because BYU and Utah held their events in succession this year. Former Utes Junior Salt, Brian Blechen and Quade Chappuis attended, returning the support that several BYU prospects they trained with showed them in Salt Lake City on Thursday.
The only NFL teams not represented were the Lions, Bengals, Bills and Rams, unless you count Detroit linebacker and former Cougar Kyle Van Noy, who watched with interest.
Sports agent Evan Brennan, a BYU graduate who represents running back Paul Lasike, defensive back Skye PoVey, receiver Jordan Leslie and offensive linemen De'Ondre Wesley and Solomone Kafu, smiled broadly amidst the flurry of activity because PoVey registered extremely high on the Wonderlic Test, posted the day's best vertical jump, 37 inches, and was around 4.5 in the 40.
"To be honest, I don't think I was on any of their radars," PoVey said. "But then when I jumped and ran and did pretty well in the other things, I had a few [scouts] approach me. … And so, yeah, hopefully I turned some heads."
Leslie also showed well, with a 36-inch vertical and a 40 time unofficially in 4.4 range.
Receiver Ross Apo had a disappointing, injury-filled career, but turned some heads with his 36.5-inch vertical and his 11-foot, 2-inch broad jump. His agent, Provo-based Richard Gale, said Apo's broad jump would have been the second-best among receivers at the recent NFL combine, and fourth-best overall.
Defensive back Robertson Daniel killed the 40 with perhaps the day's best time in that run.
"They said they had me at about a 4.34," Daniel said. "My best [before Friday] was a 4.38, so I was expecting right around there, based on my start."
Wesley, the offensive lineman, dropped 15 pounds in six weeks of pre-Pro Day training and used some help from former BYU linebacker Jordan Pendleton, a training guru, to post some impressive times in the agility drills for a man his size.
"I have a unique body type," Wesley said. "I am athletic and long and can move really well for my body size. I feel like there is NFL interest in me. I just have to make the most of my opportunity when I get it."
Punter Scott Arellano, safety Craig Bills, OL Edward Fusi, safety Harvey Jackson, DL Marques Johnson, tight end Devin Mahina and deep snapper Kevin O'Mary also participated, while quarterback Christian Stewart threw to the pass-catchers but did not do any measured drills.
BYU's Pro Day participants
WR Ross Apo, P Scott Arellano, DB Craig Bills, DB Robertson Daniel, OL Edward Fusi, OL De'Ondre Wesley, LB Alani Fua, DB Harvey Jackson, DL Marques Johnson, OL Solomone Kafu, RB Paul Lasike, WR Jordan Leslie, TE Devin Mahina, DS Kevin O'Mary, DB Skye PoVey.
Former players: LB Bryan Kehl, LB Uona Kaveinga