College football • 11 Aggies will compete in drills.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Logan • It's ending, Matt Austin has realized. Four years of sweat and blood that he's left in Logan, and now there's only a few more days left.
The 24-year-old is pushing himself as hard as ever, hoping that years of work can translate into a faster 40-yard dash and a higher vertical leap. On Thursday, NFL scouts will be watching, seeing if he has what it takes to cut it in the pros.
It's hard to believe, Austin said, that it's boiling down to this.
"I wish I could play here another year, as long as I've been here," Austin said, wiping the perspiration from his brow after a workout. "These past four years have been the most fun of my life. I've grown and matured a lot being around the guys."
Austin, the Aggies' leading receiver last season, is among about a dozen Utah State seniors who are scheduled to work out during the school's Pro Day. Starting at 8:30 a.m., the group will be measured and clocked in a barrage of tests and drills that scouts use to determine who has the right stuff.
Defensive back Will Davis and running back Kerwynn Williams went to the NFL Combine last month, so they're likely to have shorter days than most. But the others, made up from a class that saw the Utah State program escalate from punching bag to conference champion, will get the full battery of NFL evaluations: interviews, weight lifting, cone drills, sprints and all manner of nitpicking about their pro potential.
It's a lot of pressure for one day. Williams knows the burden, and he handled it effectively at the NFL Combine by running a 4.48 40-yard dash, third-best among running backs. He's told his former teammates that the best way to handle it is by exhaling and feeling confident.
"If you get too tense, too uptight, you're not going to perform to the best of your abilities," he said. "You just have to relax and trust that you've done all you can do beforehand."
Several Aggies who went to senior exhibitions have already gotten feedback. The Pro Day will be their chance to prove they've taken advice to heart.
Austin went to the Casino Del Sol All-Star Game in January, an experience that helped him grow confident that he can find a spot in the NFL. With a fast 40 time, he said, scouts and coaches have told him he can be a late-round draft pick.
"It felt good to actually showcase my talent against supposedly big-time schools and players, hearing from new guys and coaches," Austin said. "I have to run a fast 40 they could probably care less what I do in the other drills."
Players acknowledged the Pro Day drills do feel very clinical, especially coming off an 11-2 season. It's strange that a 40-yard time has as much to do with being drafted as Austin's 729 receiving yards last year. Or Bojay Filimoeatu's 71 tackles and five sacks. Or Davis' five interceptions.
Competing with and encouraging one another makes the preparation feel more engaging, even more fun. And with their days in Logan numbered, it's another opportunity to be together before the future scatters them across the country.
"It's definitely different and weird watching practice and not being out there," Williams said. "But I'm glad I got four years here. It's a great group of guys, and we've all got to move on to the next step."
Utah State Pro Day
• Participants: Terrence Alston, Matt Austin, Kellen Bartlett, Tyler Bennett, Will Davis, Bojay Filimoeatu, Chuck Jacobs, Al Lapuaho, Oscar Molina-Sanchez, Jumanne Robertson and Kerwynn Williams.
• Tests include measurements, weight lifting, 40-yard dash and positional drills.
• Starts at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
• Sessions are not open to the public.