Over the past two weeks, NFL coaches, scouts and fans have been raving about former ACU wide receiver Edmond Gates, the Division II standout who blew onlookers away at the NFL Combine two weeks ago with his blazing 4.37-second 40-yard dash and all-white attire. NFL scouts now will have the opportunity to solidify and reiterate those initial impressions when ACU hosts its annual Pro-Day on March 21.
Gates will be one of eight ACU senior football players who will test and complete drills for the NFL scouts present.
There will be approximately 12-15 NFL teams represented at the Pro Day, according to long-time ACU strength and conditioning coach David Hess.
“This is a great opportunity for our seniors to come out and perform for the best of the best in a place in which they are familiar and comfortable. It’s a huge day for our seniors,” Hess said.
Along with Gates, offensive tackle Trevis Turner, linebacker Courtney Lane, wide receiver Raymond Radway, running back Kendrick Johnson, defensive lineman Bryson Lewis, defensive back Drew Cuffee and defensive lineman Fred Thompson will be among the athletes showing off their skills for the NFL scouts.
Hess has coached strength and conditioning at ACU for 12 years, and this marks the twelfth time that he has been a part of a Pro Day.
“This is one of the bigger ones I’ve been a part of,” Hess said. “Obviously, Danieal (Manning) and Johnny (Knox) brought big crowds, but we’ve had steady showings every year. This year is unique because we have so much quality talent working out.”
The Pro Day format will be modeled after that of the NFL Combine and will contain many of the same drills for the players. The players will arrive Monday and take the Wonderlic test first before registering physical measurements such as height and weight, after which they will run the 40-yard dash, 5-10-5 shuttle, “L” shuttle, vertical jump, broad jump and rep out on the bench press, set at 225 pounds.
Head football coach Chris Thomsen is thrilled for the opportunity to show off some of the talent he’s had on his team over the years and is equally excited for the opportunity and platform his players have in the Pro Day.
“This is great for the guys who didn’t get to go to the combine,” Thomsen said. “For the rest of those guys, this is basically their combine and could potentially result in a career.”
ACU began receiving more attention from NFL scouts five years ago, when highly touted defensive back Danieal Manning ran at ACU’s Pro Day in front of roughly 30 scouts at ACU’s practice field.
Abilene Christian received even more attention when wide receiver Johnny Knox and running back Bernard Scott, both currently on NFL rosters, performed at Pro Day.
ACU Director of Athletics Jared Mosley is excited for the platform the pro day will provide ACU.
“This is great exposure for ACU,” Mosley said. “We’re in a unique position for Division II schools, and the university is gaining great from a marketing perspective.”
Gates will post numbers for both shuttle drills, the broad jump, as well as run routes for the scouts. Reserve Green Bay Packers quarterback Graham Harrell is in town and will throw passes to Gates.
“I feel very humbled to be in the position that I’m in,” Gates said. “This will be fun for me, and I can’t wait for March 21 to get here. I’m glad it’s here because it adds a sense of comfort for everyone.”
As for his apparel choice?
“I’m going to change it up and wear all black this time,” he said. “I want to spice things up a little bit and keep everyone on their toes.”