Utah football: For Trevor Reilly, draft day can’t come soon enough
NFL teams have grilled the U. LB/DE about his age and his knee. His answer: Check the tape.
Published: May 7, 2014 08:17PM
Updated: May 7, 2014 10:49PM
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BYU quarterback Jake Heaps (9) fumbles the football as he is hit by Utah linebacker Trevor Reilly (49) during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo. (AP Photo/Colin E Braley)

“Do you see yourself as a dog or a cat?

“There’s no wrong answer. Dog or cat. And why, please.”

Such questions NFL scouts ask to determine which respondent will best control the movements of a football on a grass field.

Utah’s Trevor Reilly was impressed with the thoroughness of teams at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Really, he was. But does it matter if he’s Cat Reilly because he can “sneak around people and I’ve got nine lives,” or he’s Dog Reilly because “I’m tough and strong and blah blah blah blah?”

Teams give themselves too much time and too many reasons to second-guess the important stuff, he says.

“To me, it doesn’t seem like rocket science to find out if someone’s a good football player,” he told The Salt Lake Tribune on Wednesday (click here to read some outtakes). “You just turn the film on. And then you look at the body. ‘He’s got good size, he runs pretty well. Yeah, I think we like him.’”

It’s been five months since Reilly intercepted a pass from Colorado’s Sefo Liufau and chucked it deep into the south end zone seats at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Since then he’s trained in UC Irvine with some of the country’s elite draft hopefuls. He’s had surgery to clean out his meniscus. He’s been to the NFL Combine — where doctors held him out of running drills — and to Utah’s Pro Day — where he ran a 4.66 40. He’s worked out privately for Jacksonville and Carolina. He’s had his knee checked again.

Next, please.

It goes without saying that NFL teams take into account more than which house pet a player most aspires to be. For, Reilly who is projected anywhere between the second and fifth rounds of this week’s draft, three questions are foremost.

1. Is he too old? 2. How is his knee? 3. Is he a tweener?

Well, here goes:

1 • “It’s hard,” admits the 26-year-old, who served an LDS mission in Sweden and redshirted a season at the U. “That’s one thing I have no control over. If it was my game or if it was my speed or my strength, then that’s something I can fix, but how do you fix your age?”

Reilly tells them his body is still just 23, because he wasn’t being brutalized by fellow giants for three of those years, and that mentally he’s ahead of most 21- and 22-year-olds in his draft class.

2 • Sure he tore his ACL in 2012 and had another offseason knee surgery this year, “but I never missed a game for my knee,” he said. “So, you can say what you want, but I played through injury, and I played when people can see that I’m hurt.”

Two weeks ago he returned to Indianapolis to allow doctors from each team to assess his knee and his recovery from a minor surgery on a bursa sac in his elbow. All clear, they told him.

3 • Maybe. But if an NFL team wants him to line up at defensive end, he’ll pack on 15 pounds. If they want him at outside linebacker — particularly in the 3-4 that is a la mode — “I think it’s a natural spot for me.”

Reilly says he played both roles at the U. (where he even lined up at defensive tackle and middle linebacker), so teams have the tape to decide for themselves.

Now he can only wait.

Last week Reilly returned home to Valley Center, Calif., with his wife, Jessica, and his two daughters, Nelli and Shayn.

Shayn’s cancer is in remission, and “she seems to be healthy and happy,” he said.

“Having kids is great,” he says. “It really helped me grow up and become a man. I can handle myself in this world. I’ve proven that. That’s something teams don’t have to worry about with me: ‘What’s this guy going to do when we write him a check for half a million bucks?’”

Jessica has made his life easier, he said, by picking up the slack in various other areas when the constant honing and refining has left him drained.

In the last week Reilly has received a call from almost every NFL team, checking to see that they’ve got the correct number for draft day.

“And then they always slide in a question: ‘How many workouts have you had?’”

In case, you know, other NFL teams know more than they do.

Neurosis abounds.

As for Reilly’s plans on Friday and Saturday, when he is likely to be taken: Golf. Lots of golf.

mpiper@sltrib.com

Twitter: @matthew_piper

The Trevor Reilly file

At the U. • Tied fourth all-time in sacks (20); third all-time in tackles for loss (37); fourth all-time in fumble recoveries (6); fourth all-time in fumbles forced (8); All-Pac 12 defensive end as a senior; played in 48 games and started 32 — including all 11 in 2012, after tearing his ACL.

Measurables • (Between NFL combine and Utah Pro Day) 4.66-second 40-yard dash; 30 1/2-inch vertical leap; 9’9 broad jump; 26 225-pound bench presses; Wonderlic 28. Stands 6’5 and weighs 245 pounds.

Personal • 26-year-old grew up in Valley Center, Calif., with four brothers and a sister. Brothers include Beau (Hawaii quarterback), Drew (BYU safety) and A.J. (former BYU-Hawaii basketball player). Reilly and his wife, Jessica, have two daughters.