Each week, former Madison La Follette and University of Wisconsin long-snapper Kyle Wojta will share his thoughts as he auditions for a shot at the NFL, likely as an undrafted free agent.
If you read my journal last week you know that this week I am going to talk about my experience with our Wisconsin Pro Day, which took place Wednesday. I will discuss how my teammates and I performed and what is going to take place leading up to the draft.
For those who do not know, Pro Day is when NFL scouts, general managers, and head coaches have the opportunity to come and watch NFL hopefuls from the Badgers perform on-field tests and drills. They also take notes on players' measurements -- their height, weight, wingspan, etc. I was happy with all my measurements, especially my weight -- 243 pounds -- because that means I was able to put on about 13 pounds of good weight since the Rose Bowl. Being around 240 to 250 pounds is almost essential for a snapper in the NFL because you have to be able to hold your own against massive rushers on punts and even bigger men on field goals. So I was definitely elated with my weight when I stepped on the scale.
After we had all our measurements taken, we were given a few minutes to prepare for the running, jumping, and strength portion of pro day. In this sequence, the scouts time every player's 40-yard dash, pro agility drill, 3-cone drill, long shuttle, vertical and broad jump, and bench press. Unfortunately for me, I was only able to participate in the short agility drills (pro agility and 3-cone), jumping, and bench press because I strained my calf muscle training a few weeks prior to pro day. I was especially disappointed that I was unable to run the 40-yard dash because I knew that I would have run a very respectable time. But I felt that I was able to demonstrate my athleticism to the scouts through the short agility drills and the jumping. I also did extremely well on the bench press by pushing up 21 reps of 225 pounds, which seems to be particularly good for my position.
Finally, we had the on-field drills, in which players were split up by position and asked to do specific football-related drills that are designed to evaluate players' strengths and weaknesses. The specialists were the third position group to go, so we spent about 30 minutes watching our teammates perform for the coaches.
The first group was Russell Wilson, Nick Toon, Jake Byrne, and Bradie Ewing. During their position work, Russell threw passes to the other players and they were all very impressive. I believe that Russell only threw three incomplete passes out of about 65 throws which is very impressive! Nick, Jake and Bradie also impressed the scouts by demonstrating their speed and their reliable catching ability.
The following group was the offensive linemen. I think it has become pretty clear that our offensive line is always pretty impressive so I do not need to spend much time talking about their drills and their performances. Kevin Zeitler, Josh Oglesby, and Jake Byrne all participated in these drills and all of them were very technically sound and impressive.
Next, it was the specialists' turn to perform for the coaches. First, we did about 15 field goals so coaches could watch Phil Welch and see how he kicked. He performed very well by only missing three field goals -- one from 53 yards and two from 58 yards. But he was able to demonstrate his strong leg and consistency on both field goals and kickoffs.
After we finished field goals, it was my turn to show the scouts my snapping ability. I executed about 12 punt snaps and I really could not be happier with my performance on that day. I was able to demonstrate my consistency as a snapper for both field goals and punt snaps and my snaps had great velocity.
Brad Nortman was unable to punt during pro day because the ceiling in the McClain Center is too low and he would hit it every time if he punted. But Brad had a great combine and was able to demonstrate his abilities to the scouts and coaches there.
After we finished, the defensive backs were able to show their abilities to the scouts. Aaron Henry and Antonio Fenelus were able to show off their excellent technique and great quickness, which is a necessity at their positions in the NFL. Finally, the defensive linemen and linebackers were able to perform and Louis Nzegwu was able to show his extreme athleticism -- especially for a guy his size.
Overall, the day seemed to be very successful for my teammates and me. Hopefully we were all able to make an impression on the scouts so that they take a liking to us!
Now that Pro Day is behind us, we all anticipate teams setting up individual workouts with players they are interested in leading up to the draft. Interested teams will either fly in to work out players or fly players to their facilities to work them out. Either way, I look forward to working with any team that thinks I have the ability to contribute for them and I am excited for the opportunity!
Until next week ...