Utah Pro Day is latest installment of the friendship between Troy Williams and Darren Carrington II

Former 7-on-7 teammates put on a show in front of NFL scouts

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Troy Williams talks to reporters during University of Utah's 2018 Pro Day for NFL scouts, as Spence Eccles Field House, Wednesday, March 28, 2018.

On a day dissected down to inches and seconds by dozens of strangers, the loudest roar — the kind that echoed throughout the hushed Eccles Football Complex — came on a simple play. And it was fitting that it came on the last drill Thursday morning, the last fling of a football from one longtime friend to another.

In customized cleats given to him to honor his late family members, former Utah quarterback Troy Williams backpedaled one final time, seeing the receiver he’s known since sophomore year of high school streaking down the far sideline.

Williams let it loose, and Darren Carrington II had to go and get it.

Just like those days, when they were a dynamic combo in camps across Southern California, when they were the highlight of various 7-on-7 tournaments. The ball didn’t hang high, it just kept on going, so Carrington had to hit the after-burners. It didn’t look like he’d get there at first, but he then stuck out his long arms and massive paws, snagged the football before the nose touched the turf and somersaulted over.

Current and former Utes in attendance hollered in admiration of the effort. Carrington recovered, sprung back to his feet and sprinted to the empty end zone, closing out Utah’s 2018 Pro Day. Quite the way to end a stressful event when representatives from every NFL team are in attendance to see what you’ve got.

“Right?” Carrington said, still catching his breath. “Troy put it out there.”

And he went and got it.

Just like the old days.

Their paths have weaved together and apart since they first met as kids who could barely drive. Williams, a former four-star QB, chose Washington, and Carrington, a one-time four-star recruit himself, went to Oregon. Eventually, they’d reunite at Utah, where Williams became a two-time team captain who helped persuade Carrington to pick Salt Lake City after being dismissed from Oregon last summer.

“That’s pretty much why I came here in the first place,” Carrington said. “Us coming out here [it was] just playing like on the playground, on the park or something. Troy has one of the best balls out there and we were on point today.”

Each had something to prove.

For Williams, it was about showing to a bunch of NFL scouts that the has the goods to get a call, despite losing out on his starting job to Tyler Huntley in 2017.

For Carrington, it was about showing the lingering foot injury that hampered the second half of what could’ve been a historic season at Utah is no longer an issue.

“It was great to come out here, take those steps together and have a great time,” Williams said.

The former starter helped Utah to another bowl win last year, stepping in for Huntley when he went down with injuries, including a 34-13 win over Colorado on Senior Night that featured two rushing touchdowns. Carrington had a career-high 980 yards on 70 receptions a year ago and said he had aspirations to be a Biletnikoff Award finalist his last year, but the foot injury slowed what might’ve been.

At the 2018 NFL Combine in a month ago, the foot was still nagging him. He didn’t prove what he’d hoped to. On Thursday in Utah, it wasn’t the same story. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound wideout, whose hands were among the largest measured at the Combine felt back to normal.

“I feel like I was able to open up a little bit more here, my legs are feeling a lot better, feel like everything looked a lot better,” he said. “It was a good day for me.”

The friends were impressive in other drills, too. Carrington ran a 4.78 40-yard dash, while Williams ran a 4.58.

Williams, who spent time preparing for this Pro Day in Calabasas, Calif., said one scout told him he showcased everything they needed to see: “Touch, accuracy, velocity, arm strength, everything.” Of all the throws he made, only one was behind the receiver.

Tim Kaub, Williams’ offensive coordinator at Narbonne High School and later at Santa Monica College, took a phone call from his former pupil and helped instill a game plan for the Pro Day. They studied Pro Day sets on the Internet and Williams figured out what he’d be most comfortable doing. Two weeks ago, he stepped onto the field of his alma mater and worked on it with Narbonne High receivers.

About midway through his throwing session Thursday, scouts asked Williams to change it up on the fly, to sprinkle in different throws and play-action-type deliveries.

He adjusted, as he’s had his entire life.

It concluded with the deep ball to Carrington that left Williams hopping up and down in jubilation in his custom cleats and his family members a few yards away.

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