The day after spring enrollees like Jackson Barton and Alani Havili-Katoa first don crimson at spring camp, a handful of their Ute forebears will make one last trip to the Spence Eccles Field House to disprove what scouts believe to be the boundaries of human performance.
Their hope is to join more than 20 fellow alums in the National Football League. For a couple, it’s a formality. For others, it’s a fantasy. Here’s a quick primer on those involved Wednesday.
Don’t tell agent Josh Arnold that McGill’s draft status has been improved by his Senior Bowl interception, or his sterling NFL combine measurements (4.51 40, 39-inch vertical), or the fact that he’s physically similar to Richard Sherman (the Seattle Seahawks’ cornerback-du-jour, whom you are unwise to try with a sorry receiver).
"All 32 clubs really know and have known what kind of player he is," Arnold said. "They already knew."
McGill seems likely to be drafted in the second or third rounds. Arnold told him to "shut this down" after McGill met expectations at the combine, but "he’s such a competitive kid," he said. "He had his mind made up that he’s going to do everything on Pro Day."
Nobody stands to gain or lose more Wednesday.
Reilly’s 6’5 and 255 pounds and he’s got a nose for the ball and he’s tough as all get out … but he has a history of knee problems that investors of multimillions won’t easily ignore.
It’s the second straight year that a Ute defensive lineman has had to sit out combine events on doctor’s orders. Last year, Star Lotulelei was able to somewhat ease concerns about his heart activity with a strong Pro Day. If Reilly can impress in his sprints after recovering from offseason knee surgery, he could go as high as Round 2. If not, he could fall as far as the fifth.
Likely a late-round pick or an undrafted free agent, Murphy feels pleased with his performance at the combine (4.79 40, 24 reps, standout times in the shuttle and three-cone) and will limit himself to positional drills Wednesday.
The 24-year-old’s agent, Michael Hoffman, says his stock rose when he showed some of the best hands at the combine. "I think he exceeded some expectations," Hoffman said.
For Palepoi to become the latest Utah defensive tackle to play on Sundays, he may need a team to take a chance on him with a free agent contract.
Agent Chase Callahan says he’s kept his nose to the grindstone while training with some of the elite prospects in Orange County, Calif. Callahan wasn’t sure what drills Palepoi will take part in Wednesday, but said he’s been "training as though he will do everything."
He’s 6’4, a sculpted 235 pounds and ran an official 4.77, but the problem for Denham is another measurable: on-field results. Billed now as a tight end, he suited up as receiver 11 times last year and averaged just 26 yards per game.
"We put a high value on him and just didn’t think the guys at Utah used him the right way," says his agent, Chris Napoli. "If you find guys that big who can move that well, it enables you to do a lot of different things with them."
Agent Aaron Gordon says Tuipulotu has been training in Orem with former Tennessee Titan Dave Stroshine for the past couple of months and squatted 650 pounds recently. Gordon took on Tuipulotu after a referral from Lotulelei and Ute defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake.
"They told me to take a chance on him," he said. "He moves really well for a guy his size, and he’s strong as an ox."
A 25-year-old senior, he’s hoping that a run in the low-4.5s will show scouts that he’s got some wheels to go with the soft hands he displayed for the Utes last year.
Fitzgerald has also gained about 15 pounds since the end of last season, when he was listed at 6’3, 200 and caught 32 passes for 471 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Also competing Wednesday, according to a news release from the U.: Quade Chappuis, Phil Hinson, Vyncent Jones*, Soni Kinikini*, Thretton Palamo, Jeremiah Tofaeono*, Tanqueray Towns, Michael Walker, Karl Williams* and Kelvin York.
* Have hired an agent.
— Matthew Piper
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