Scouts from every NFL team were in attendance as Northwestern football had their pro day on Tuesday at the Nicolet Football Center in Evanston. Among the players featured were linebackers Chi Chi Ariguzo and Jimmy Hall, running back Treyvon Green and wide receiver Kyle Prater.
Coach Pat Fitzgerald was excited for the opportunity for some of his players to get in front of NFL scouts and embark on the next step in their journeys as they leave Northwestern. Of the players participating, the one who garnered the most attention was Prater.
“There’s no doubt Kyle is a terrific person and he’s overcome so much”, said Fitzgerald. “Everybody here is a huge fan of his.”
There is no doubt Prater is a physical specimen standing at 6’5″, but he said he was out to show scouts that he is not just a one-trick pony.
“I can go out there, run NFL routes and be dominant at the NFL level and I felt I did that today”, Prater said after his workout. There were a few blemishes I saw in Prater’s day. His height and length at times affected him negatively in some of the agility drills, and he came up limp after a quick cut while running a slant pattern during position drills. But it’s hard to watch Prater without one player coming to mind – Brandon Marshall. In fact, Prater told reporters that he has been working out with Marshall in Florida and has been able to learn from him.
“He’s a big brother, a mentor and a great friend to have”, Prater said. “It’s been the best thing for me knowing how to approach the game, not just on the field but off the field”.
The player who stood out the most to me was Jimmy Hall. He ran the fastest 40-yard dash (4.50 seconds) and looked the crispest on all of his drills. This is the issue with these pro days, though. A player can measure well and be great at running drills, but this does not always translate to success on the field. Hall was not a standout player this season for the Wildcats, but you’d never know it watching him on Tuesday.
The most notable injured players not participating were safety Ibraheim Campbell and quarterback Trevor Siemian, who will have their own pro days in a few weeks. While Coach Fitzgerald was mostly just disappointed for Siemian not being able to participate, he was very high on Campbell when asked about him, calling him “the full package”
“He’s a no-risk prospect”, said Fitzgerald. “He’s put together a terrific resume. Hes got a great football IQ, he’s a high, high character guy. He’s the real deal and I think teams will be really excited for him.”
Campbell will get his chance to show scouts what he can do, and still hopes to make an NFL roster, looking up to All-Pros Earl Thomas and Ed Reed as having a “playmaker’s mentality, high enthusiasm and a high passion for the game”.
In addition to the Northwestern players working out for NFL scouts, a number of local athletes were present as well. A few of the standouts were wide receivers Adam Drake from Eastern Illinois, and Cameron Meredith from Illinois State. Drake was named second team All-Ohio Valley Conference and third team All-American by Sports Network in his Junior season, and Meredith led ISU with 66 receptions, 1,061 yards receiving and nine touchdowns. Last season he became one of just six players in school history with over 1,000 yards receiving in a season.
Fitzgerald summed up the day perfectly, calling a chance to play in the NFL “the icing on the cake”. The most important thing, he said, is that they are leaving already with Plan A in hand. A degree from Northwestern.