Story by Ben Everett | Sports Writer, Video by Branson Hardcastle | Broadcast Reporter
Twelve graduating senior football players showed off their skills and athleticism in front of NFL scouts on Monday at Baylor’s pro day.
Defensive end Brian Nance said the whole process is like an extensive job interview, so the players take it seriously.
“Definitely like a job interview,” Nance said. “Coming into the whole 24 hours, locked in, no social media. Coaches always tell us treat it like a business, so that’s what we do.”
Defensive end K.J. Smith missed the entire 2017 season with a stress fracture in his leg. He submitted a waiver request to the NCAA in an attempt to be granted a sixth year of eligibility, but the waiver was denied.
Smith said he passed on a chance to appeal the NCAA’s decision and is excited to see what his future in football holds.
“I definitely wanted my senior year,” Smith said. “The waiver was my chance to get another one and it got denied. I decided not to appeal and just move on. Now I’m just pursuing my football career and seeing where it takes me.”
Linebacker Taylor Young did not participate in the 40-yard dash, but did go through some agility drills, despite dealing with a torn quad.
Young said fighting through adversity is something he has had to do his entire life, so Monday was nothing new.
“Everybody knows I fight through stuff,” Young said. “I want to be out here and compete with my guys. It’s just a lifestyle. I’ve been down and out my whole life. I’ve been the underdog.”
Tight end Ishmail Wainright is making the transition from being a four-year basketball player under head coach Scott Drew to taking his shot at professional football after just one collegiate season under head coach Matt Rhule.
Players such as former Baylor power forward Rico Gathers, as well as NFL tight ends Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham have successfully made the same transition.
Wainright said playing one season at Baylor will help his draft stock because scouts can evaluate his film.
“It helped because I have some film,” Wainright said. “Some guys who transition from basketball to football have no film. They see that I’m able to block. They see that I’m able to catch.”
Offensive lineman Mo Porter played all of the 2018 season as the starting left tackle, but he showed off his snapping ability during the pro day.
Porter said he flaunted his versatility as an offensive lineman on Monday.
“I think I did a pretty good job with the snaps,” Porter said. “I showed the scouts I’m versatile. I can play tackle, guard, center, wherever they want to put me at.”
Others who participated in pro day drills were quarterback Anu Solomon, safety Davion Hall, safety Taion Sells, wide receiver Quan Jones, offensive lineman Tyrae Simmons, safety Chance Waz and offensive lineman Ish Wilson.
The 2018 NFL Draft starts April 26 and runs through April 28. It will be held at At&T Stadium in Arlington.