KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (UTSports.com)– Tennessee hosted its annual Pro Day on Monday morning, as several draft-eligible Vols showcased their talents in front of NFL scouts, coaches and executives.
In total, 22 Vols participated in workouts throughout the day: Elliott Berry, Evan Berry, Trevor Daniel, Logan Fetzner, Holden Foster, Rashaan Gaulden, Jeff George, Jakob Johnson, Colton Jumper, John Kelly, Brett Kendrick, Justin Martin, Kahlil McKenzie, Aaron Medley, Emmanuel Moseley, Thomas Orradre, Jashon Robertson, Josh Smith, Coleman Thomas, Kendal Vickers, Shaq Wiggins and Ethan Wolf.
31 NFL teams were represented at Monday's Pro Day, including Oakland Raiders general manager and VFL Reggie McKenzie and Tennessee Titans general manager Jon Robinson. Former Vol and current Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Josh Dobbs was also in attendance.
Daniel, Gaulden, Kelly and McKenzie all participated in the NFL Combine in early March, but focused on improving numbers one last time before April's NFL Draft.
The Vols started the day by getting their heights and weights recorded before performing on the bench press.
Following the bench press, the players took part in the vertical jump, broad jump, 40-yard dash and 60-yard shuttle.
The day ended with position specific drills for the scouts in attendance.
"I wanted to show my speed," Jumper said. "That's really what a linebacker needs to have, especially these days. And I felt like I showed that. I came in and got done what needed to be done. I've been training for about two months now on this stuff, so if you don't have it by now, you're not going to have it down."
Jumper, a former walk-on, is looking to get on NFL teams radars, while players like Gaulden and Kelly are already being mentioned as possible selections in next month's draft.
Gaulden is receiving the most buzz among the Vols' potential professional players following three standout seasons with the Orange and White.
Gaulden credited older teammates for the individual success he had in 2017, when he finished with 65 tackles, five pass breakups, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
"Guys like Derek Barnett and Cam Sutton showed me that in the offseason you really have to take it to another level as far as film study," Gaulden said. "You have to get on the field and get extra time in, and you also have to step up as a leader and be able to rally your defensive backs and get them on the same page."
Several Vols praised new head coach Jeremy Pruitt and said they were impressed with his coaching staff.
"I've talked to him a couple times," Vickers said. "He really seems like he's a great football mind, and everyone I've talked to around him says that he's one of the best football minds they've ever been around. I wish nothing but success for him here.
"The coaches want to win just as bad as the players do. They're hard on them, they don't give them any days off, and they're going to respond to it. Going into spring practice, they're going to play their butts off and I know the coaches will push them as well."
The 2018 NFL Draft will take place April 26-28 at the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Pro Day Quotables
Kick Returner Evan Berry (On the decision to switch from defensive back to wide receiver for drills) “I was planning on doing both earlier on, but I decided that I wanted to put my all of my focus into one thing and do that to the best of my ability without having to worry about two things at once. I chose what I really felt comfortable with and what I really wanted to do, and that’s how I narrowed it down.”
Punter Trevor Daniel (On what he’s looking for in a potential NFL team) “You want to make sure it’s a good fit for you as well, obviously you want them to like you, but you definitely want to like the organization and make sure it’s a good fit. If they have a punter that you could possibly beat out, maybe that’s where you’d rather go than a place offering more money.”
Defensive Back Rashaan Gaulden (On meeting with head coach Jeremy Pruitt) “I’ve talked to him a few times. I like the staff that he brought in, and I like where they’re going. I’ve talked to a lot of guys on the team about winter workouts that they’ve gone through and it sounds like they’re ready to go for spring ball. They definitely have a coaching staff that’s behind them and definitely is going to bring the best out of them.”
(On the jump he made from his sophomore to junior season) “It really goes back to the guys that were in front of me. Guys like Derek Barnett and Cam Sutton showed me that in the offseason you really have to take it to another level as far as film study. You have to get on the field and get extra time in, and you also have to step up as a leader and be able to rally your defensive backs and get them on the same page.”
Linebacker Colton Jumper (On what he wanted to show during Pro Day) “I wanted to show my speed. That’s really what a linebacker needs to have, especially these days. And I felt like I showed that. I came in and got done what needed to be done. I’ve been training for about two months now on this stuff, so if you don’t have it by now, you’re not going to have it down.”
Running Back John Kelly (On comparisons to former Vol Alvin Kamara) “A lot of teams have compared me to Alvin Kamara just as far as what we can do for an offense. I definitely feel like I was able to develop at Tennessee, being able to go out and catch the ball a little bit more, because now in the NFL there’s a lot of running backs that have to catch the ball and you have to give an easy target for the quarterback.”
Defensive Lineman Kahlil McKenzie (On if he’s a better athlete than shown on film) “Yeah, definitely, just because when you lose 50 pounds, you’re moving better. And now, I’m focusing on football 100 percent of the time. It’s really easy to focus in on what you have to do and focus in on your body and what you’re putting in your body, how you’re performing, and things like that. Now I have a lot more time to pay attention to myself.”
Defensive Lineman Kendal Vickers (On meeting Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt) “I’ve talked to him a couple times. He really seems like he’s a great football mind, and everyone I’ve talked to around him says that he’s one of the best football minds they’ve ever been around. I wish nothing but success for him here.”
(On the vibe that surrounds the Tennessee program with Jeremy Pruitt) “The coaches want to win just as bad as the players do. They’re hard on them, they don’t give them any days off, and they’re going to respond to it. Going into spring practice, they’re going to play their butts off and I know the coaches will push them as well.”
Tight End Ethan Wolf (On the Pro Day experience overall) “Each and every one of us is just trying to come out here and put all of our hard work on display. Again, you know more later on, but right now you just get all the reps you can. I feel like a lot of guys out here did well