Nine players participated in the UCA-hosted Pro Day on March 11 with aspirations of being one of 224 picks in the upcoming NFL draft.
Seniors place kicker Eddie Camara, offensive linemen Cole Caruthers and C.J. Simon, running back Willie Matthews, defensive lineman T.J. Randall and wide receivers Dezmin Lewis and Damien Watts were the participants for UCA.
Simon said getting a good start in the drills was important on improving his results.
“I did everything to look good with my numbers, and the drill work explains itself,” he said. “It’s a position I’ve been playing all four years through college, so [I focused on] just doing what I do in the drill work and testing as best as I [could].”
Senior tight end Matt Pearce from the University of Arkansas—Monticello and senior quarterback Kiehl Frazier from Ouachita Baptist University also participated in the Pro Day.
Following measurement and weigh-ins, the players participated in a series of drills for representatives from the NFL’s St. Louis Rams and the New Orleans Saints. Drills included a 40-yard dash, a 225-pound bench press, a vertical jump, a broad jump, a 20-yard shuttle and a three-cone drill.
Following the physical drills, Pro Day participants ran receiving routes and caught passes, threw passes or blocked.
Pearce is a former Bear who transferred to UAM last year. Frazier started his college career at Auburn University and transferred to OBU prior to last season.
Lewis was invited to this year’s North-South Senior Bowl on Jan. 24 and the NFL’s combine in mid-February, so he didn’t participate in the measurement, weigh-in and bench press portions of the event.
Lewis said he wanted to improve some times from the combine.
“I think I did pretty good,” he said. “The main thing, I wanted to come out and run my 40 again, do vertical and broad jump. I improved on all three and once again, I wanted to run good routes and make good catches, and I feel like overall, I had a good day.”
Lewis improved his 40-yard dash time from 4.58 seconds at the NFL Combine to 4.41 seconds at the UCA Pro Day.
In various mock drafts, Lewis is projected to be picked in the middle rounds of the NFL draft, and is projected as high as a fourth round draft pick, which would be the highest draft pick for a UCA player in NFL history.
Two-time Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year and former Bears’ defensive lineman Larry Hart was the 143rd pick in the 2010 NFL draft, which is the current highest.
Lewis said he is excited about the upcoming NFL draft.
“It’s something exciting coming from a small school. Not too many people get to go high in the draft, so to be drafted in the fourth round would be a blessing,” he said. “I know everyone’s behind me. I have a lot of support from the coaches, the staff and the players, so it will be a good thing for everyone. I’m just excited to have this opportunity.”
The three-day NFL draft starts April 30 and concludes May 2.