By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
There was lots of lifting, running, jumping and weaving in and out and over things with the final destination a dream stop that brings with it the promise of big bucks:
“It’s the next step and you put your heart into it,” said New Mexico Lobo Dallas Bollema.
The next stop is a long shot for most collegiate players, but one of the stops along the way to possible NFL glory is your friendly, neighborhood Pro Day. The New Mexico Lobos held their Pro Day Thursday in the UNM weight room and the New Mexico Indoor Practice Facility.
“I have a plan,” said Lobo Kasey Carrier, who had back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing seasons at UNM. “Not many people are supposed to make it into college on a scholarship and I did that. Not many people get a chance to start at a division one university and I did that.
“I feel the NFL is an obtainable goal.”
Pro Day is a supervised workout that NFL scouts conduct at college campuses around the nation. The workouts test aspiring NFL players in various drills of strength and agility such as the bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, 40-yard dash and a whole lot of agility drills up and around cones and tackling pads.
“It’s a neat experience,” said Bollema. “The time is now. It’s something you always wait for. We came in really focused, but me and the guys talked about keeping each other relaxed. We were competing against each other in a way, but we also were encouraging each other to do their best.”
Carrier, Bollema, Justus Adams, Andrew Aho, Jacori Greer, Darryl Johnson and Ben Skaer worked out for about two months at UNM with Ben Hilgart, the Lobos’ strength and conditioning guru. Dillon Farrell did his pre-Pro Day conditioning out of town.
A spot in the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis is considered the best path to an NFL contract because it is by invitation only. The best of the best compete in a standardized setting as scouts and personnel directors look on. Kent State’s Dri Archer ran a 4.26 40-yard dash in Indianapolis. North Carolina’s Russell Bodine bench pressed 225 pounds 42 times.
Still, the NFL knows that there are lots of unsung and underrated heroes out there who can make NFL rosters so scouts bounce around the country holding Pro Days. It’s a good way to turn a few NFL heads in your direction.
“I’m excited for the opportunity,” said Farrell, an All-Mountain West offensive lineman. “If you had told me in 2009 that I’d be out here doing this I probably wouldn’t have believed you.
“I think New Mexico is a place that is all about hard work and bringing your lunch pail to work along with your hard hat. We have guys who have been overlooked (as Lobos), but have gone on to show what they can do in the NFL.”
Said Carrier: “It felt good to finally have this day come. We have been training for it since January.”
The NFL Scouting Combine and Pro Days can help – or hurt – an athlete’s draft status. Of course, the film room (games) is important. Pittsburgh’s 6-foot-1 Aaron Donald’s Scouting Combine numbers might not dazzle you, but he sizzles on the field and should be a Top 20 pick.
An athlete can help his stock with exceptional efforts in measurable drills.
“In my 40, I was shooting to break 4.7 and I did accomplish that,” said Bollema. “I believe they told me it was a 4.64. I was pretty excited about that.”
Said Dillon Farrell: “A lot of hard work was put into this process and it was good to see the results from it. It was a relief to get it over, but it was fun competing with the guys out there and pushing each other.
"There were a few things I was disappointed in, but in my bench press I exceeded more than I thought I would get. I got 26 reps. My vertical (jump) I got 30 inches and that was more than I had hoped to get.”
Not all Lobos had to go through the running, jumping and lifting. If you were Ben Skaer on Pro Day, you jogged over to Branch Field and did some kicking. Skaer actually is one of the top pro prospects from UNM thanks to his deep, high and accurate punts.
“My thoughts on it is that if kickers and punters do their job the way they are supposed to do their job, we don’t have to worry about running or hitting,” said Skaer through a smile.
The Lobos began working out for their Pro Day in January and now have to await the 2014 NFL Draft which will be held May 8-10.
“Everything is uncertain right now,” said Bollema. “Everything is going to be silent for a while, so you sit and wait and if you get the opportunity, you capitalize on it.”
Said Skaer: “This whole season has been a blessing and just to continue on and participate in Pro Day is wonderful.”