Originally published January 27, 2015 at 09:22a.m., updated January 28, 2015 at 12:10a.m.
For the third time since 2010, the Kansas University football program will be represented by multiple players at this year's NFL scouting combine.
Former KU linebacker Ben Heeney and cornerback JaCorey Shepherd on Tuesday officially learned that they were among the list of 300 or so NFL hopefuls invited to this year's combine — Feb. 17-23 in Indianapolis — and the news came just a couple of months after the two capped all-Big 12 seasons in their final year with the program.
Heeney, who recently played in the East-West Shrine Game and currently is training in Pensacola, Florida, said he and Shepherd talked on Tuesday and the former teammates, who will join former KU punter Trevor Pardula at this year's showcase, were looking forward to representing KU one more time.
“It's going to be awesome,” Heeney told the Journal-World. “For us, it's just another day at the office and we're both excited to go up there and kill it. I definitely hope to put KU back on the map with my performance and I know JaCorey does, too.”
Both Heeney and Shepherd were added to the combine rosters in the second wave of invitations. Both said they were confident throughout the process that they would land a spot in the field, but Heeney, who credited former KU coach Charlie Weis for helping get his name out there, said receiving the official invitation was a moment he won't soon forget.
“I got the invite in my email (Tuesday) morning,” he said. “And even though I was kind of expecting it, when I got it my heart stopped for a second because it was finally real.”
Shepherd, never one to lack confidence, said he was hoping to get the invitation but did not see any reason to change what he's been doing now that it came.
“I know it's better to get invited than not to get invited because all of the top guys get to go,” Shepherd said. “But I expect the best of myself no matter what, so I expected to get the invite and I'm just going to keep working as hard as I have been.”
The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Shepherd is training in Lawrence while finishing school and may go home to Mesquite, Texas, the week before the combine to get additional training.
Heeney, 6-foot, 230, is taking his final six hours toward graduation online.
This year's combine will be televised live and replayed often on the NFL Network. Included among the tests Heeney and Shepherd will run through in Indianpolis are: 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, 3-cone drill and shuttle run.
All of the combine activity, of course, is to prepare both the athletes and the NFL teams for the seven-round NFL Draft, which will take place April 30-May 2.
Heeney, Pardula and Shepherd will become the seventh, eighth and ninth KU players to attend the combine since 2010, joining Tanner Hawksinson and Bradley McDougald in 2013, Steven Johnson in 2012 and Darrell Stuckey, Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe in 2010.
According to a report from HawaiiWarriorWorld.com earlier this week, KU linebacker Colton Goeas has decided to transfer to the University of Hawaii to finish his playing career.
Goeas, a native of Mililani, Hawaii, attended St. Louis High and played sparingly during his two seasons with the Jayhawks. The 6-foot-2, 245-pound son of former NFL lineman Leo Goeas, who also played his college ball at Hawaii, red-shirted the 2013 season and served as a back-up linebacker in 2014 but did not play in a game. According to the report, Goeas will sit out the 2015 season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules and have two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016.