Six Bears take part in first-ever Big 12 Pro Day

The Big 12 started its first-ever conference-wide Pro Day this year, as the schools in the league no longer have to have their own Pro Days on their respective campuses. Zach Babajanof-Rustrian | Sports Writer

By Zach Babajanof-Rustrian | Sports Writer

FRISCO — Baylor football had six Bears represent the green and gold on Saturday in the inaugural Big 12 Pro Day at the Ford Center in Frisco, with five competing in the events.

One opted out because of an injury, but they all hope to be drafted in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Baylor had offensive lineman Clark Barrington, defensive linemen TJ Franklin, Gabe Hall and Justin Sambu, and linebackers Mike Smith Jr. and Byron Vaughns participating in the Big 12 Pro Day.

Throughout the weekend, the players were able to meet with NFL scouts from all 32 teams, as well as participate in student-athlete evaluations to assess player skills to maximize the prospect experience. All of Baylor’s players took part in the player skills assessments with the exception of Smith Jr., due to his knee injury.

The players were honored to represent Baylor at the Pro Day, as Hall said he was doing it for all the people he had met on his journey who helped get him to this point.

“There are people from high school that didn’t make it here,” Hall said. “I’ve just got them on my back with me — just know I’m taking you with me while I’m doing this process. All these guys looking at me, they’re congratulating me. I just know my brothers are watching me and proud of me, so it feels really good.”

Hall said he felt good after clocking in with a 4.96-second 40-yard dash, on top of the other position drills he was a part of.

“Now it’s time to just keep working going through football,” Hall said. “It’s off the combine type stuff and just getting into football. I’m going to be a pro now.”

With four Bears participating in the D-line portion of Pro Day, Franklin said it felt nice to see everyone again after not having much interaction over the last few months.

“They’re always the people that I was able to lean on, people that I knew would always be in the right place at the right time,” Franklin said. “Just being able to be dogs on the field, be dogs off the field and be able to lead the defense, lead the younger guys in order to just elevate the team in general. I feel like this group definitely did that.”

Going into the Pro Day, all the guys had different motivations of what they wanted out of it, but Barrington had inspiration unlike any other. Being a brand new dad of two weeks to his daughter, Barrington said he had an added reason to be on the field.

“I didn’t think I could love somebody so much. It’s only been two and a half weeks. [I’ve] been drained emotionally, physically, but I wouldn’t have wanted it to happen any other time,” Barrington said. “I think it prepared me well for today, and [I’m] just excited to be able to show up for my wife and also my daughter.”

While everyone had supporters in attendance, nobody had fans like Vaughns, whose family and friends cheered him on in every event.

“It’s all [eye]-opening because there’s no more stipend checks, no more free rent and no more more food; you have to take care of yourself,” Vaughns said. “But it is definitely fun knowing I have that village behind me, knowing everywhere I went — whether it was Baylor or Texas or Utah — I had everybody that is in the crowd right now, was everybody who has been there for me. So it definitely feels good, and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The Bears will now wait for the NFL draft — which is set for April 25-27 — to see if their names will get called on the stage.