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NFL Draft Prospect Interviews

Shannon Kane ’20

Staff Writer

On April 1, Merrimack College’s own football team hosted their annual NFL Pro Day, allowing three seniors to showcase their talents and abilities in front of scouts from both the Cleveland Browns and the New England Patriots. A Pro Day in college football is when an NCAA division college or university allows scouts from different teams in the National Football League to come to their school and witness players participate in multiple events that typically take place during the NFL Combine. This testing includes a 10 and 40 yard dash, bench tests, a vertical and long jump, agility drills, and taking measurements.

Senior captains Jesse Jones, Cody Demers, and Hunter Sallila participated along with two other players from Pace University and Nichols College. As these Warriors wrapped up their final season in November with five wins and five losses, they have been training nonstop in the hopes to catch the eye of any NFL teams. They are all considered NFL Draft Prospects and have been working with agents with the goal of pursuing football as a professional career.

Scouts from the Cleveland Browns and the New England Patriots arrived to Merrimack in the early morning on April 1. Many Merrimack football players were in attendance to support their fellow teammates and friends on this important day.

Defensive Lineman Gabriel Dansereau, who will complete his 4th season as a Warrior in fall 2019, was first in line to see his teammates perform. “These are some very deserving guys. It’s nostalgic to be able to see them show out and also see what I could be up against this time, next year.”

The Pro Day began in the athletic training facility in Volpe. They took each player’s measurements. They then completed their vertical and long jumps. Then came the bench tests. Each player was to complete as many reps as they could of two hundred twenty five pounds. An average amount of reps that scouts typically look for is about twenty five.

The crowd then moved right outside of Volpe to Duane Stadium. The players, coaches, and scouts took the field while the attendees crowded the perimeter of the sideline. 10 and 40 yard dashes were first. Each player was allowed two attempts at each outside drill. Agility training began after, testing how well each players reflexes were and how quick they were on their feet.

Jesse Jones, nose tackle for the Warriors, described the day as “very surreal.” Jones has had an outstanding four seasons on the defensive line for Merrimack. He was awarded NE-10 All-Conference for two years and All-Super Region.

“Participating in the Pro Day was a full circle moment for me. I have always grown up idolizing the NFL and it was always the ultimate dream,” Jones said. “Throughout my football career in high school, prep school, and now in college, I have had the chance to become closer to that dream I’ve had since childhood. The opportunity alone to test in front of these scouts has made all the hard work worthwhile.”

When asked about the next steps ,Jones continued, “As players, we know that the work doesn’t stop here. The next steps are to hopefully be asked to participate in a training camp for any teams. This would further our chances of being noticed. Next is the draft.”

College football players have three years after graduation to be picked up or signed by an NFL team.

The Warriors are making the transition to Division 1 next season. Although this will be a drastic change, the same values are instilled in each player and expectation is always high.

“I have seen so much dedication in all of us. We are all so passionate about the game and truly want to see each other succeed. The level of respect we have for each other on this team is something we take a lot of pride in. As Warriors, we have learned to carry that same level of respect with us through anything,” Jones said.

Since Merrimack is a small school, sometimes it is difficult for these players to get noticed on the same level of players from much larger schools. The Pro Day gives them the opportunity to demonstrate their skills and hopefully receive the recognition for their hard work.