Deacons Hopeful For Opportunity After Pro Day
March 19, 2014
By Jenn Leser, WakeForestSports.com
Under cloudy skies and freezing rain, Wake Forest hosted its 2014 Pro Day on Monday at the Doc Martin Football Practice Complex.
The majority of the 2013 senior class participated, including quarterback Tanner Price, wide receiver Michael Campanaro, tight end Spencer Bishop, offensive tackle Steven Chase, running back Josh Harris, free safety A.J. Marshall, linebacker Mike Olson, defensive ends Zach Thompson and Kris Redding and nose guard Nikita Whitlock.
Non-Wake Forest participants included linebacker Paul Swan from Bowling Green, quarterback Danny O'Brien and defensive back LJ McCray from Catawba College and linebacker Carlos Fields and defensive lineman Donnie Owens from Winston-Salem State.
The players participated in the 40-yard dash, the pro-shuttle, the 3-cone drill and a number of position drills in front of scouts from 22 NFL teams. They also were tested inside the weight room, doing bench rep presses of 225 pounds and showing off their vertical leaps.
One Demon Deacon took on a completely new role for Pro Day, as senior nose guard Nikita Whitlock found himself lining up on offense for the first time in his career. The transition from being a defensive lineman to playing several different roles on offense wasn't easy for Whitlock.
"I played d-line [in college] but I have opportunities to play a few different positions," said Whitlock. "So when I went up there I focused on the offensive side of the ball since I've never played it. I came out here today and did linebacker work, fullback work and d-line work. I think I did well. I didn't drop any balls, my feet looked good so I think all in all it was a good day.
"I think I'm built pretty well to play fullback so it kind of came natural. I dropped a lot of body fat so I can move a little better, be a little more flexible, things like that."
For free safety A.J. Marshall, the Pro Day was a chance to show scouts that he has not missed a beat since breaking his leg on Oct. 26 in the Miami game. After playing in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 14, Marshall took the field again for the Deacs in front of the scouts Monday.
"That was actually my first injury like that. It was the first time I've ever broken a bone in my life," said Marshall. "Being that we didn't go to a bowl game, I was able to get to physical therapy a month earlier. I went down to Florida and began training for the Pro Day.
"I just wanted to showcase my talents and show everything I've worked hard on these past few months and really my whole life. Just showcase my talents and show what I can bring to the table for different organizations."
With a successful combine performance under his belt, Michael Campanaro hoped to use Pro Day as another chance to remind scouts of just how capable he can be as a receiver.
"I was just hoping to show them my versatility, playing inside receiver and outside," said Campanaro. "Just reassuring the evaluations on me, that I run great routes and can catch things. Just showing them my routes, I'm catching the ball smoothly, I can play everywhere on the receiver side."
The only Demon Deacon invited to the NFL Combine, Campanaro was a top performer in both the bench press with 20 reps and the 60-yard shuttle, running an 11.31. But despite the statistics, the wide receiver was happy to see a childhood dream come to fruition.
"It was great," added Campanaro. "I've been dreaming about going to the combine since middle school so I was just embracing it all. It's fun competing with the top guys across the country."
A four-year starting quarterback, Tanner Price has proven himself in a number of ways on the field, wrapping up his career with 52 touchdowns and 8,744 yards. Back at Wake Forest after competing in the College All-Star Bowl on Feb. 14, Price also participated in the Tampa regional combine and earned himself an invite to the Super Regional Combine in Detroit this April.
"I think it went well given the conditions," said Price. "This is not what you want on your Pro Day, it's pretty crummy weather. Nonetheless, I felt pretty good about my times and I was excited to come out here and showcase my abilities in front of NFL scouts. So it was a good day and I enjoyed it."
Less than ideal weather conditions could have proven a challenge for Price, especially given the growing focus on quarterbacks' success in cold climates. But Price is confident with how he performed, and is aware that he could potentially play in this kind of weather - or worse - next season.
"A couple teams like Chicago or the Packers, you're going to have to play in cold weather so I don't think it'll hurt," added Price. "It shows that I can throw in the cold weather and if anything, that's a plus."
The Demon Deacons will now wait until Thursday, May 8, when the 2014 NFL Draft will begin. After working hard and showing their skills for 22 different teams, the Deacs are confident in their abilities and will hope to hear their names called later this spring.