March 14, 2012
BERKELEY - For several former Cal football players the school's annual Pro Day is an event they have been preparing for and looking forward to for a long time. On a rainy Wednesday morning, a long list of former Golden Bears who are pro football hopefuls arrived at the newly-opened Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance on the Cal campus to showcase their skills for NFL scouting personnel assembled from 25 of the league's teams.
Many of the Pro Day participants were players not invited to the recent 2012 NFL Combine, making their performances Wednesday even more critical to realizing their dreams of becoming professional football players.
There were several notable performances but one that jumped off the page was the time of 4.32 recorded by wide receiver Michael Calvin in the 40-yard dash on a rainy and soggy Witter Field.
"When I got to the end, I turned around and everybody was staring at me and looking down comparing times, trying to make sure it was a consistent time," Calvin said. "I knew it was a good thing, to see that I ran something fast."
Calvin's consensus 4.32 was faster than any player at this year's combine. The last time a wide receiver was under 4.32 at the combine was the 4.28 recorded by Jacoby Ford of Clemson in 2010. Ford was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
Calvin added two impressive marks in the broad jump (11'1") and vertical jump (40.5") that would have tied for the best and tied for fourth-best at this year's combine, respectively.
"It's a chance for me to show the assets that I have," Calvin said of Pro Day. "Being under the radar, it's good to get this kind of exposure. Showing some speed definitely helps, but I would have also liked to have run some routes. Everything looks great on paper, but I know these guys want to see what you can actually do as far as position work goes."
The positional drills scheduled to end the day's events were cancelled due to the heavy rains and wet conditions.
Campbell posted a solid all-around performance with 22 bench press reps that would have tied for first among safeties at the combine, a 4.51 40-yard dash and 38-inch vertical jump that would have checked in second at his position, and a 10'7" broad jump that would have been tied for second.
"A lot of people tend to lose focus and lose sight of the goal they're trying to reach, which is making it into the NFL," Campbell commented when asked about his preparation for the event. "So I tried to stay focused and surround myself with the people who had the same common goal. Things like constantly eating right, getting my rest, not going out much, getting treatment, keeping my mind fresh and my body right."
Edmonds had two impressive leaps, recording the second-highest vertical jump in Cal history when he hit 41 inches and matching Calvin's broad jump (11'1") that would have tied for the best at this year's combine.
Owusu pumped out an impressive 39 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press, which was only bettered by two others at the entire combine. Then, he went out in the wet conditions and clocked a 4.70 in the 40-yard dash that would have been fifth among defensive linemen in Indianapolis.
"It's just like clockwork," Owusu said of his bench press. "All of us have been doing this for eight to nine weeks, almost every single day. It's easy by now. You get a little adrenaline because the scouts are watching you and everybody is cheering you on."
Linebacker Mychal Kendricks posted a time of 4.09 in the 20-yard shuttle to improve by a tenth of a second from his combine mark and a 6.70 in the 3 cone drill after not participating in that event last month.
"I wanted to come out here to show some support and I had a couple drills that I had to do," Kendricks said. "We were also supposed to do some positional drills today, but considering the [weather] conditions, I think it was safer just not to do anything [else]."
Kendricks' impressive showing at last month's combine included recording a time of 4.47 in the 40-yard dash that was the fastest by a linebacker. He also posted marks of 39.5 inches in the vertical jump and 10 feet, seven inches in the broad jump, tying for fifth overall and eighth overall, respectively. In addition, he had a time of 4.19 in the 20-yard shuttle that was the fifth-fastest for linebackers and 24 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press that was tied for 11th at his position. He offered his thoughts on the upcoming NFL Draft next month.
"Anything can happen in this draft," Kendricks said. "You just want to get your foot in the door, and once you do, you have to take full advantage. Whether it's in the first round, second or seventh, you just want to get picked somewhere you fit in. It's all about what you can do on the field after you get picked. I plan on doing a lot of work on and off the field."
"It was more interest from the fans and media," Jones said about his experience at the combine. "The teams knew what I could do. At the Senior Bowl, I answered a lot of questions that people had about me. I opened up a lot of eyes. That Senior Bowl was critical for me."
Other former Cal players that participated Wednesday included S Sean Cattouse, OL Justin Cheadle, LB Ryan Davis, OL Justin Gates, DL Trevor Guyton, LB D.J. Holt, DB Virdell Larkins, TE Anthony Miller and PK Giorgio Tavecchio.
The Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance that opened to the football program in January was a critical component in making Wednesday's event such a success.
"It's been a long time coming," head strength and conditioning coach Mike Blasquez said. "We've worked hard for a lot of years through all of the shortcomings in terms of getting this finished. To finally get in here, it's been unbelievable. It's been a huge resource for our program. We're able to train our athletes in a way that we'd like to train them because we have the facilities now to do it. To have everything right here for the players makes a difference. It's inviting for them; they want to be here. It's made it easy for them to do the right thing. It's helped them to be more committed and be a part of this and prepare themselves for football."
Campbell and Owusu also talked glowingly about the facility.
"When I first walked in here, I was in shock," Campbell said. "For us to finally get it and be able to work in it, it's amazing. It's great to finally be able to work out in here after we've wanted it so long."
"I came back two weeks early to work with Coach Blasquez and because I wanted to get the feel for this place," Owusu said. "This facility is insane. I got all the work in that I needed and more . It's been great down here. Just looking around here, I couldn't imagine having all this when I was playing here. They have it all here. It's great."
Blasquez also enjoyed watching the players he trains perform in front of the professional football scouts.
"That's what it's all about for us," Blasquez said. "They're doing the work, they're achieving these accomplishments and we're just here to help them. We provide them with the framework to achieve what they have, it's great to see them come out and accomplish their goals."