By Michael Haag | Sports Editor
Not only was Baylor football’s Pro Day a chance for 19 different athletes to showcase their abilities in front of NFL scouts from all 32 teams, but it was a reunion for a pair of former Bears.
One came in the form of former Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer, who made his way back to Waco for Monday’s event following his departure from the team at the close of the 2020 season. Brewer went on to play solo seasons at the University of Utah (2021) and Liberty University (2022).
Brewer has battled injuries his whole career and is most recently coming off a season in which he broke his right (throwing) hand in his first game at Liberty. Now, he said he feels “better than ever” and is looking at a potential future in the NFL.
“I feel like I have more velocity on the ball than I ever had, throwing it further than I ever have,” Brewer said. “So, I feel really good right now. It was awesome to get back and throw to all these guys; miss those guys a lot. So, it was really fun.”
A four-year starter at Baylor from 2017-20, Brewer rekindled those relationships with his old teammates. Former starting wide receiver RJ Sneed was also a participant in the Bears’ Pro Day after playing last season at the University of Colorado.
After manning the ship for four years, Brewer left the program with the most completions in school history (828) and finished second behind Robert Griffin III in terms of passing yards (9,700) and touchdowns (65).
Tight end Ben Sims and wide receivers Gavin Holmes and Sneed said they were excited to have the 6-1 slinger back on Monday. Sims called it a “blast from the past.”
“Same old Charlie, dude,” Sims said. “Great guy, man, I missed him. We were able to throw a couple of times last week. Got to catch up a little bit. Talk a little football, talk about life. He’s been zipping the ball way harder. And he’s been through a lot, too. Man, I’m just really proud of him and what he’s trying to do here.”
Brewer, an Austin native, said he was thankful to head coach Dave Aranda for giving him the chance to come back and display his skills in front of the NFL scouts. He added that being able to throw to familiar faces helped and since he was already training in Austin, it wasn’t going to be hard to make the trip.
Add in the fact that he said his love for Baylor has never left him, it made it an easy choice.
“I really love Baylor,” Brewer said. “[I] spent most of my career here. [I] came in, and we were probably one of the worst teams in the country; and [then we became] a top-10 team in the country. Baylor holds a special part in my heart, and it’s been a while since I’ve been back.”
For Brewer and Sneed, it was nothing short of a homecoming. But defensive lineman Jaxon Player had one of the most unique opportunities for any collegiate athlete in the nation: He got to run through the drills on the campus of his alma mater, Midway High School.
Since Baylor’s Allison Indoor Practice Facility is still under construction, the annual Pro Day was moved to the Midway Activity Center in Hewitt. It marked a home turf advantage for Player, a former star defensive lineman with the Panthers.
“Yeah, man I’m blessed,” Player said. “I don’t think many people get to do their Pro Days at their home high school field. I came here over the weekend, just got back used to it and was remembering my stomping grounds.”
Player’s teammates made sure to tease him in good faith for getting the opportunity to do such a cool thing.
“How many people get to do their Pro Day at their high school field?” defensive lineman Chidi Ogbonnaya said. “I was the first one to hit him up saying, ‘Man, you must have paid somebody or something.’ But I’m happy for him.”
All 19 Baylor athletes went through drills catered to their specific positions, but they all had to take part in weight lifting, the 40-yard dash, the broad jump and more. All-Big 12 defensive lineman Siaki “Apu” Ika and offensive lineman Connor Galvin were both given invites to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis that already happened, so they only took part in position drills on Monday.
Ika is projected to be drafted in the second round, the highest among the current wave of Baylor players that have entered their name. The 6-4, 345-pound nose tackle said the combine was a “real fun experience,” and that’s not getting ahead of himself. Even though Ika is essentially a lock to get drafted, he said he’ll be thankful to hear his name called come draft day (April 27-29).
“I felt like I went out there [at the combine] and did what I could,” Ika said. “Now that today is done, the stress went down a lot. Now it’s just a waiting game and really seeing what happens going forward.”
Meanwhile, Galvin said he’s being projected to be picked on the third day of the draft (rounds four through seven). The 6-7, 299-pound [as of Monday] left tackle was awarded the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2021 and secured all-conference honors in 2022.
Galvin predominantly started at left tackle with the Bears, but he said he’s capable of playing anywhere in order to make it on to an NFL roster.
“That’s how you stay in the league a long time,” Galvin said. “You can’t just play one position. I played one position [left tackle] at Baylor for a while, so I just want to show them I can play left tackle, right tackle. If we need a guy, I can play guard. That was my whole goal here.”
Outside of Ika and Galvin, the 17 other members of Baylor’s Pro Day are looking to be selected in the later rounds or hope to get an invitation to a team’s training camp as a free agent.
Linebacker and fullback Dillon Doyle was at the Pro Day, but he wasn’t an active participant as he suffered a knee injury before the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Jan. 28 at the Rose Bowl. Even with the setback, Doyle said he expects to be back soon in order to extend his playing days on the gridiron.
“Baylor training staff did a crazy great job supporting me, and it was so great to be around everybody again,” Doyle said. “[I’m] really pushing [myself] to be able to be healthy for a Pro Day on April 22, and I’m going to be 100% by the time I’m with a team and mini-camp starts.”
Doyle, who was second-team All-Big 12 as a fullback and linebacker in 2022, said his versatility to play both positions can give him a huge boost in order to convince a team to draft or sign him.
“Really at this point, it’s just any way I can get on a roster and any way that I can impact a team,” Doyle said. “In a lot of ways, it’s saving a roster spot if I can do both. So, that’s kind of the positive of having that flexibility.”
Since there was no record of exact metrics among any of the events, here are some unofficial 40-yard dash times from Monday, according to the players themselves:
- Offensive lineman Jacob Gall (5.0-5.1)
- Player (4.88-4.89)
- Cornerback Mark Milton (4.41)
- Sims (4.57)
- Holmes (4.36)
- Safety Christian Morgan (4.46, 4.48, 4.50)
Morgan had the most dominant showing at the combine overall, as he said he recorded a 10′ 11″ on broad jump and 40.5″ on the standing vertical jump.
But for someone like Player (6-0) or Gall (6-2), who are both undersized for their positions, they said they hope the scouts look past their height and see what they displayed on the field in their collegiate careers.
“I feel like my tape speaks for itself and I was talking to some scouts earlier and I was telling them I don’t think many guys in this year’s draft or even in the previous draft have 35-plus TFLs [tackles for loss] in their career, and I did that,” Player said. “I just need one team to take a chance on me.”