Provo • A perfect storm has gathered for BYU to have its biggest Pro Day in program history — thanks to one of the top prospects in the NFL draft.
The focus of the workouts at BYU’s practice facility? Zach Wilson, of course.
Wilson dazzled throughout the Cougars’ repaired 2020 schedule, which was initially going to feature six Power Five programs, but was then ripped to shreds by the pandemic and had to be put back together on the fly.
The junior QB excelled throughout the revamped schedule, throwing for 3,692 yards and 33 touchdowns, leading the Cougars to an 11-1 finish that was capped with a triumph over Central Florida in the Boca Raton Bowl. With his cannon arm, quick feet and overall athleticism, Wilson moved rapidly up NFL draft boards through the course of the season, and could be one of the top 3 picks when the draft is held on April 29.
That has all served to heighten the anticipation for Friday.
Due to the pandemic, the NFL Combine won’t feature individual workouts this year, making each school’s Pro Day that much of a bigger event. Add in Zach Wilson, as well as other former Cougars, and a national platform through the NFL Network’s live coverage, and BYU’s Pro Day events will be amongst the most talked about.
Live Coverage of BYU Pro Day will start at 10 a.m. on the NFL Network.
“I think we’ve always made Pro Day really important to our program and trying to do everything we can to showcase our players’ talents,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said. “... Hopefully this will be the biggest Pro Day to date, and then maybe we get even bigger next year. Hopefully, we just get this thing rolling.”
Along with Wilson, 13 other BYU players and six former Cougars will display their talent before what is sure to be a multitude of NFL scouts.
One of BYU’s current players most excited for Friday is Josh Wilson.
The freshman is concluding his first spring practice, but is also eager to see his older brother perform at Pro Day. The younger Wilson brother said it’s cool to see Zach talked about as potentially being a top-five pick in the NFL draft.
“Knowing him my whole life, obviously, I can say that I expect no less,” Wilson said. “He’s always been the top of everything. He’s always believed in himself, so I just think he works harder than a lot of people. I expect nothing less and I’m excited for him, and it’s really cool just seeing all this finally come together because he’s gone through a lot with it. I’m glad he’s finally getting it all paid off.”
BYU’S PRO DAY LINEUP
DB Zayne Anderson
TE Matt Bushman
OL Brady Christensen
DL Zac Dawe
DL Bracken El-Bakri
DB/LB Kavika Fonua
OL Chandon Herring
OL Tristen Hoge
LB Isaiah Kaufusi
WR Dax Milne
DL Khyiris Tonga
DB Troy Warner
DB Chris Wilcox
QB Zach Wilson
If it were up to Sitake, he’d have all his players move on to the NFL. But he knows that’s just not feasible for everyone.
However, he wants to set up each one of his players to have that opportunity, whether it comes to fruition or not.
That mentality mirrors Chris Jackson’s plans. The junior transfer wants to become a pro one day, but meanwhile he’s focused on the process and being the best product he can be for BYU.
“If I wasn’t to make the NFL, I wouldn’t change my work ethic,” Jackson said. “Football has taught me work ethic. So, even if God had different plan for me, I’m going to continue to work. But the goal is NFL.”
Last year, the majority of combine workouts were canceled. Many athletes didn’t have the chance to get their stats officially recorded by the NFL, including former BYU players.
Now, more than a year since the pandemic started, with a decline in cases in Utah and better knowledge on precautions and safety measures, Sitake is excited to be able to provide this opportunity to his former players.
“I’m just thankful that we have a staff and an administration that has the same vision that we do as a coaching staff to try to give our guys every opportunity to Pro Day and to showcase their talents,” Sitake said. “So, even if the timing’s off a little bit, some of those guys will have another opportunity. And if it works out, great, if not, then they say that we did everything we can as an administration, school and program to get them in that position to do their best and get to the league.”