Tribune photographer Al Hartman commented that it felt like being in church Wednesday morning at Spence Eccles Field House.
Wives and parents bit their nails while current Utes played scout, timing their former teammates’ 40-yard dashes with their cellphones. Joining them were real-life scouts from roughly 24 NFL teams, according to Director of Player Personnel Fred Whittingham.
On the clipboards of these men — few of whom looked capable of any length of dash — pencil scribbles altered the futures of the 22 athletes present. At least for outside linebacker Trevor Reilly and fullback Karl Williams, the future got brighter.
Reilly ran a personal-best 4.66 40-yard dash to answer questions about his explosiveness that were raised by an ACL tear his junior season and offseason knee surgery after his senior campaign. He also broad-jumped 9 feet, 9 inches.
Was he nervous? You betcha.
"Ask my wife: I was a different human being these last three months," he said. "This has kind of been freaking me out."
The night before the combine he was up until 2:30 a.m. "eating pasta," said Reilly, a father of two girls.
Utah’s leader in tackles (100) and sacks (8.5) in 2013 has been projected anywhere between the second and fifth rounds. Scouts asked him to sit out position work and shuttle drills because his knee is still not 100 percent, and next will come a return to football-based drills and more rehab until the NFL Draft on May 8.
But first: "I’m going to go play 72 holes of golf tomorrow, and just relax, and we’ll go out and eat at Rodizio Grill and have a meat orgy."
Williams was on the Pro Day undercard, so to speak, given that he is not expected to be drafted. Wednesday probably didn’t change that. But there will be few NFL teams who don’t hear about a 243-pound man who ran a 4.50 40-yard-dash.
"I kept telling myself, ‘Don’t get nervous, I’ve been doing this my whole life,’" said Williams, who shared Reilly’s insomnia. "I’ve lived for this one moment."
He rushed for just 88 yards and received 115 during his career as a Ute. Nonetheless, the Layton High alum who teammates refer to as "The Truth" became an on-field leader, and he received the greatest share of hugs and applause Wednesday morning. Williams said he told scouts he would run a 4.5, and as a guy who never ran track before, he thinks he’s capable of going even faster.
Agent David Canter said teams noticed. Williams’ times and measurements are the best of any fullback in the NFL draft, he said.
"I came here as a walk-on and worked my way up," Williams said. "I’ll do the same thing in the NFL."
More notes from Utah’s Pro Day:
• Cornerback Keith McGill took part in a wide range of activities, against his agent’s advice, after stunning scouts at the NFL combine. He probably didn’t hurt or help his stock dramatically. McGill ran an official time of 4.52 in the 40, down from 4.51 in Indy, and his vertical dropped from 39 inches to 35.5. He didn’t bench at the combine but put up 12 reps of 225 pounds Wednesday and was pleased with himself for that. Teams worked him out extensively afterward, showing particular interest in his hip movement and fluidity, he said.
• Defensive tackle L.T. Tuipulotu completed the most bench reps on the day at 34. It was a fortuitous day for the Tuipulotus, whose son Tevita was narrowly missed by a dropped Griff Robles out toward the sideline. Wife Jessica and all those around breathed a big sigh of relief.
• Neither Jake Murphy nor Anthony Denham ran, with both tight ends feeling pleased with their NFL combine times. Both displayed the excellent hands that you would expect of them, and both had scouts analyzing their blocking technique.
• Defensive tackle Tenny Palepoi told media he cut a lot of fat off his body while training in Southern California and that the results of those efforts — his side-to-side mobility — impressed NFL teams today.
• Seventeen of the participants were from the U., but that’s not counting Robles, who was a Ute backup QB and transferred to Dixie State. Williams, Murphy and senior receiver Sean Fitzgerald were able to persuade Robles to throw at Utah Pro Day after doing the same at BYU’s event last week.Next Page >
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