Mean Green Seniors Make Their Case For NFL
Posted March 13, 2012
Tuesday was one of those days in a life that is both anxiously awaited and dreaded. It's the big interview. A chance to show what you can do. A chance that may never come again.
"After today," North Texas senior running back Lance Dunbar said, "there's not much more I can do."
Scouts from seven NFL teams - who will share what they learned with scouts from the rest of the league - gathered at Apogee Stadium for North Texas Pro Day early Tuesday morning. Over the next six hours, they gathered the information that will largely determine whether or not the Mean Green's seniors will get a shot at a career in pro football. They watched film, conducted interviews, took measurements, and conducted combine-style workouts. Agility drills, 40 yard dashes, vertical jumps, broad jumps, weightlifting.
Although North Texas is not from one of the major conferences, the scouts are searching high and low for hidden gems and they don't care where they find them.
"It's all the same, North Texas or Texas," 49er scout Bob Morris said. "We're trying to get a good look at guys who were not at the combine and get good numbers on them."
The day was all business, well organized and on time. Several parents and friends watched nervously from the stands while players, the concentration and tension showing on their faces, went through the drills. One moment a scout barked at an athlete for not doing a drill correctly, the next moment another scout offered advice and encouragement.
Dunbar, in probably his last competition at Apogee, was focused on doing well in the 40 yard dash, and he turned in a time of 4.47. He was also impressive in the agility drills.
"The 40 was a big deal for me," he said. "I worked hard for the last two months to get ready for today because I knew it was my big day. Came out, did what I had to do. Hopefully."
Brandon Akpunku brought his trademark intensity to the proceedings.
"My vertical jump and broad jump were definitely opportunities to show how explosive I am," he said. "I got off to a good start there."
The agility drills, the three-cone drill and the short and long shuttles, proved more challenging, requiring speed and footwork.
The objective drills completed, the day turned to the passing drills. A quarterback from nearby Tarleton State University participated at the request of the scouts, and he and the Mean Green backs and receivers went through passing drills near the end of the day - a challenge for both, working with someone with whom you've never worked in front of pro scouts.
"There you go," Steelers scout (and North Texas legend) Joe Greene commented as Dunbar ran a route and hauled in a pass. Dunbar and Greene had a chance to speak with one another briefly before Joe moved on, headed to another pro day in Oklahoma tomorrow.
Then the defensive backs and linebackers had their chance in pass defense drills. And, with little fanfare, it was over.
"It went real well," North Texas strength and conditioning coach Frank Wintrich said. Wintrich helped run the pro-day activities. "The scouts were pleased with the organization and the flow. They said our guys really worked hard today. Our guys came in, they were on time, they attacked the drills, and they did a great job."
All that's left now is to keep in condition and wait for a phone call from an interested team.
"I'm willing to do whatever it takes," Akpunku said, summing up the attitude of all the players, "whether they need me to sit on the bench or do some laundry."
The teams represented Tuesday were the Cowboys, Steelers, Titans, Texans, 49ers, Colts, and Seahawks. Among the scouts was the Titans' C.O. Brocato, one of the senior scouts in all of pro football. The Cowboys had three scouts in attendance, led by College Scouting Coordinator Chris Hall.
David Pyke is a 1982 graduate of North Texas, the creator of the website meangreenworld.com, a former journalist and a member of the media-relations staff of the UNT Athletic Department. He offers an inside view of happenings in and around Mean Green athletics.
Previous Editions of Green Land
February 15, 2012: Sun Belt Tourney, Apps And Apogee Visitors
January 31, 2012: Signing Day 2012 Coverage
December 8, 2011: Weighting For Football
November 23, 2011: Changing the NCAA Landscape