Herd players reunite for Pro Day
HUNTINGTON — The last time that Marshall’s football seniors were all in the same place, they were in Tampa, Fla., celebrating the final win of their college careers in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.
On Wednesday, they all reconvened in the Chris Cline Athletic Complex to celebrate something different: a new chapter in their lives as they attempt to reach their dreams of professional football.
Marshall had 13 players take part in Wednesday’s Pro Day festivities in hopes of catching the eye of scouts from one of 30 NFL teams and two Canadian Football League teams who were in attendance.
“It was great because most of them graduated in December, so they went off and trained at home or different places and they all came back,” Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. “It’s just great to have the opportunity to watch these guys go to work and live their dreams.”
From California to Pittsburgh to Tampa to Washington, D.C., players went off to train over the last two-plus months since that bowl game with one goal in mind — to hear their name announced at the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville from April 25-27.
Two Marshall players — wide
receiver Tyre Brady and safety Malik Gant — competed in the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month and garnered attention before coming back to the Tri-State to take part on Wednesday.
While both were focused on their futures, each also spoke of the benefit of getting back with teammates who they’ve put the blood and the sweat equity in with over their time with the Thundering Herd.
“At the Combine, you’re just by yourself really,” Brady said. “When you get back here, you know you just feel the love from all your brothers because they know how hard you worked.”
“It felt really good to be back with my team and be back on this field,” said Gant, whose day ended early after he tweaked a hamstring in the 40-yard dash. “Just preparing and being back here a couple days before, it helped me to be back here with (Donyae) Moody and all the guys, Chase Hancock and everybody. Just to be back with them, it felt like we were back about to prepare for a game, basically.”
All of Wednesday’s participants hope that they are one day preparing for a game at the next level, which has been their goal since their youngest days of playing the game.
Marshall defensive tackle Ryan Bee admitted that there was a unique feeling to Wednesday, considering that those dreams are so close and those who can make it happen had all eyes on each repetition.
“You have to stay focused because this day is so big,” Bee said. “We’ve been training for it for six or eight weeks now.”
Bee said the day is as much about the mental focus as the physical performance on the field.
“With a lot of teams here like that, a lot of guys might feel pressured or nervous and mess up,” Bee said. “Up at Grossetti Performance, they just kept telling us, ‘Just be yourself. You made it this far. You know you can do it. Just trust in yourself.’”
While Marshall’s players took part in several agility drills that included 40-yard dash, 225 bench press, vertical jump and broad jump, there were also two players from the University of Charleston and one player from VMI who were on-hand to perform.
University of Charleston defensive end John Cominsky turned heads while at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis with Brady and Gant, and he took the opportunity to come down to Marshall to get in front of scouts on Wednesday, as well.
Cominsky did not take part in the agility drills due to his strong numbers at the NFL Combine, but he did go through positional drills while meeting with representatives from several teams in attendance.
“The opportunity has come and I fulfilled it as best as I could,” Cominsky said. “This was just another stepping stone. It was cool to come meet some guys. I’ve come down and watched Marshall football a little bit, so it was cool to come down and meet them and compete with them.”
Cominsky was joined by teammate Kahzin Daniels and VMI’s Tony Richardson, who is the brother of Marshall Class of 2019 signee Amir Richardson from University High School in Morganrown.
In terms of players who really boosted their stock on the day for the Herd, linebacker Artis Johnson is one name that stands out.
Johnson led Marshall in three agility drills, posting 29 repetitions in the 225-pound bench press, edging out fellow linebacker Chase Hancock for top vertical at 35 inches and also posting a 10 1/2-foot broad jump.
Brady, who focused his training on putting on weight in his upper body, posted times of 4.74 and 4.77 on Wednesday. He did not run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.