KU football Pro Day is upon us


Friday is a big day for several former Kansas University football players hoping to make a name for themselves with pro scouts.

The Jayhawks annual Pro Timing Day will run from 10:30 a.m. to about 1 p.m. and will feature all of the same types of drills that took place at the NFL Combine last month.

Two Jayhawks who participated at the Combine — Tanner Hawkinson and Bradley McDougald — are expected to go through a few of the drills to try to enhance their Combine numbers. The rest of the Jayhawks expected to compete are guys who are hoping to enhance their draft stock and/or prove that they're worthy of free agent contracts following April's draft.

During the past few years, this event typically has drawn representatives from 6-12 different NFL teams. However, because of the fact that longtime NFL assistant coach Charlie Weis is now KU's head coach — not to mention longtime NFL coach Dave Campo as the defensive coordinator — this year's pro day is expected to draw interest from nearly twice that many teams, perhaps more.

A good showing Friday in the 40-yard dash or the bench press or vertical jump test does not guarantee these guys anything. Many of them already are on the radar of NFL teams because of their postseason all-star game performances. Others are hoping Friday is the day they wow the scouts. After all, it only takes one team to like you, as former Jayhawks and undrafted free agents Chris Harris (now a starter with the Denver Broncos) and Steven Johnson (a special teams regular with Denver) have proven.

Here's a quick glance at the guys who will participate:

Tunde Bakare, LB
Skinny: Hard-charging linebacker determined to make it in honor of his brother, Omani, who passed away a few years ago.
Top skills: Speed. Physicality. Determination.
Prediction: Bakare's mix of speed, power and drive should earn him an invitation to a camp as an undrafted free agent.

D.J. Beshears, WR
Skinny: Undersized wide receiver who made a living using his power and speed to roll through and by defenders.
Top skills: Speed. Toughness.
Prediction: If he tests well, Beshears may get a look as a kick returner but is most likely destined to seek playing time in another league, perhaps the Arena League or the Canadian Football League.

Greg Brown, CB
Skinny: “Lockdown Brown” never quite lived up to that nickname in college but it wasn't for lack of opportunity. Faced the Big 12's best week-in and week-out for two straight years and that should him ready for what's ahead.
Top skills: Closing speed. Athleticism. Vision.
Prediction: I like Brown's chances to make a roster and think he'll have to do it the same way his good friend Chris Harris did — as an undrafted free agent.

Dayne Crist, QB
Skinny: Crist's trouble at KU are well-documented, but just because he struggled during his second senior season does not mean he's out of the mix to make an NFL roster. He did well in postseason all-star games and if he tests well, which I fully expect he will, someone may be intrigued enough to give him a shot.
Top skills: Size. Arm strength. Football IQ.
Prediction: I think Crist's skill set along with an endorsement from Charlie Weis allow him to catch on somewhere. He won't be drafted, he might not make a team, but I think he'll get a shot and I could see him being a practice squad guy with the potential to move up.

Tanner Hawkinson, OL
Skinny: Four-year starter at tackle has a solid mix of size and athleticism and is very much on the NFL radar.
Top skills: Footwork. Consistency. Athleticism. Versatility. Intelligence.
Prediction: If Hawkinson were just a bit stronger, he'd be a second- or third-round pick. As it stands, I think he'll go in the fourth or fifth round. The scouts I've talked to like what he brings to the table.

Trevor Marrongelli, OL
Skinny: Anchor of KU's line last season at center, who also has experience playing guard. Undersized by NFL standards, but a tireless worker who'll give it everything he has.
Top skills: Intelligence. Versatility. Work ethic.
Prediction: Great dude, but my guess here is that Marrongelli ends up being just another solid college player and puts his degree to work.

Bradley McDougald, S
Skinny: The move from wide receiver to safety changed McDougald's future. As a receiver, he would've had, at best, an outside shot at getting picked up by an NFL team. As a safety, he's a likely draft pick.
Top skills: Athleticism. Strength. Power. Hands.
Prediction: It's hard to say if McDougald will be selected in April's draft before or after Hawkinson, but I definitely believe he'll be picked. And I also believe he'll go on to have a solid NFL career.

Toben Opurum, DL
Skinny: Still relatively new to defense, but has good strength and plays at a high speed.
Top skills: Versatility. Intelligence. Motor.
Prediction: Opurum may not have a true position on defense in the NFL, but there still exists the possibility that the former KU running back could catch on as an NFL fullback.

Daymond Patterson, WR
Skinny: Electric play-maker in the open field who uses speed and quickness to make up for what he lacks in the way of size.
Top skills: Elusiveness. Speed. Confidence.
Prediction: Patterson may get a look as a punt or kickoff return specialist.

Kale Pick, WR
Skinny: All-around good athlete who was one of the hardest working guys on the team throughout his college career and benefits as a WR from previous QB experience.
Top skills: Intelligence. Hands.
Prediction: Pick could be viewed as an intriguing prospect because he is so reliable.

Mike Ragone, TE
Skinny: Former Notre Dame player who played one season at KU and stayed healthy for the first time in ages.
Top skills: Blocking. Toughness. Heart.
Prediction: Ragone will give it all he has but his body may not be where it needs to be to land a roster spot.

Lubbock Smith, S
Skinny: Longtime contributor in KU's secondary battled injuries throughout his career but always kept battling.
Top skills: Physical. Relentless. Versatile.
Prediction: Smith's a better athlete than he's given credit for but whether that translates to the NFL is another question.

Josh Williams, DE
Skinny: Former Nebraska defensive end started every game during his lone season in Lawrence.
Top skills: Size. Intelligence.
Prediction: Williams figures to be invited to training camp.

Duane Zlatnik, OL
Skinny: Widely regarded as one of the strongest players on KU's roster, Zlatnik was flat-out dominant at times during his junior and senior seasons.
Top skills: Strength. Mean streak.
Prediction: Size, strength and experience alone should get him a look.


rcjgku94 8 years, 7 months ago

Can us regular folk go in to watch this tomorrow (if it's even at Memorial Stadium?)? Just wondering because my morning class got canceled tomorrow and I think it'd be fun to see. Thanks to anyone who answers, sorry if it's a dumb question!

Matt Tait 8 years, 7 months ago

Nope. It's closed to the public. Sorry. (Not a dumb question, by the way) You'll have to find some other way to enjoy the great weather!

rcjgku94 8 years, 7 months ago

I went and watched about a half hour of it from the hill anyways. Beautiful day out! Couldn't really see much but I was able to read for awhile.

dgless21 8 years, 7 months ago

Bakare isn't an OL. Thanks for the article, though.

Matt Tait 8 years, 7 months ago

Or maybe I know something you don't know????

Kidding... Just got sloppy with the copy and paste. It's fixed. Thanks!

Jeff Coffman 8 years, 7 months ago

Good luck to all of the Jayhawks tomorrow. It is exciting to see a couple that should get drafted and a few more get training camp invites. I think over the next few years we should see an increased amount of this type of effort. I especially like the fact that Weis/Campo are using connections to bring some scouts in. The scouts being brought in, is a welcomed sight and will continue to aid in recruiting.

Again good luck on your Pro Day, take lots of pictures, and enjoy it. The record may not have been great, but we do appreciate all of the work you put into the program. I know many of you, were the start of the turnaround that most of us are hoping for.


ghostofrealityspeaks 8 years, 7 months ago

Being way too kind Matt. Two legit prospects and the others have no shot. I watched Brown get burned just about every game for four years. The smurfs have no chance nor does any of Notre Dame's leftovers.

Matt Tait 8 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps, but I think the Charlie Weis factor can get some guys some looks and I think there are more than a couple guys who will get camp invites. Doesn't mean any of them will even make the first cut, but I think they'll get their shot. Guess we'll see.

Whatleys_Moustache 8 years, 7 months ago

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texashawk10 8 years, 7 months ago

DB's playing on a defense with no pass rush rarely look good. Chris Harris wasn't an elite DB at KU either and he still got his shot as will Greg Brown. Not saying Greg Brown will become a starter in the NFL, but if he ends up in the right situation with the right team like Harris did, then we may see Greg Brown playing on Sundays next season. I also believe Zlatnik and Marrongelli have very good chances at making NFL rosters as well with teams that love to pound the ball like Houston, Baltimore, San Francisco, Seattle, or Denver. I'm going with 5 KU players make NFL rosters this year while 3 more (Opurum, Patterson, and Williams) get invites to training camps.

Jim Stauffer 8 years, 7 months ago

I agree with these comments. Both Brown and Zlatnik have the ability to play in the League. I do believe they will have to make it as free agent pick ups, but if they really pursue it they can do it and Chris Harris is the perfect example that pros evaluate what you can do and not what your college team allowed you to do.

KGphoto 8 years, 7 months ago

Glad you mentioned Opurum getting a shot at FB. I’d be surprised if he got much of a look as a DE/OLB.

I don’t know how the lists are made up for the scouts, or what drills these guys perform per position, but if there is a difference, Opurum should be marketing himself at FB. I think he could easily make a squad with his running/blocking/receiving skills. The guy is just so athletic for his size. Very fluid, a natural runner, great hands and great determination. He’s the guy I’m rooting for the most on this list.

texashawk10 8 years, 7 months ago

I don't think FB is the best option for Opurum. There are so few teams that use a true FB that it will be very hard for Opurum to make it at that position. I think H-Back is a better bet for Opurum to have a chance to catch on, but I don't remember Opurum being a good pass catcher which is a key for that position.

Jim Jackson 8 years, 7 months ago

Opurum actually has VERY good hands. I saw his HS tape, the man has great dexterity. He should make the league, I can't see him not catching on to a team.

I think Zlatnik and Brown for sure have a shot at the league.

Unfortunately, we had a very anemic pass rush so Brown was exposed, frequently.

Good luck to them all!

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