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Texas State NFL Draft prospects still preparing to go pro

Saturday, April 11, 2020

The NFL offseason isn’t slowing down and neither are the Bobcats.

But as the NFL Draft start date of April 23 approaches, Texas State prospects are finding it difficult to make an impression on teams.

Defensive lineman Kumonde Hines chose to enter the draft pool after posting 13 tackles and 0.5 sacks in 2019. The Richmond, Virginia native signed with Icon Sports Consulting LLC after the season and went to work trying to prove he could make it at the pro level.

His daily schedule during the spring semester was always booked. He’d wake up early in the morning and head to school. After his classes, he’d head to study hall from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. He’d then leave study hall to go train until 5 p.m.

“After that, get out, eat, lay down, stretch, do some schoolwork,” Hines said. “That was literally my day, Monday through Monday. I'd probably rest a little on Saturday.”

Linebacker Nik Daniels, who registered 99 total tackles in 2019, including 12.0 for a loss and 4.5 for sacks, signed with Overtime Sports Management group at the end of the season. He started working with a trainer at TD3 Fitness, a sports performance gym in his hometown of League City.

Daniels noted preparing for a draft is a little different than going through a typical spring training session at a university. In school, players work on getting bigger, faster and stronger. Draft prospects essentially do the same, but there’s a much bigger emphasis on the “combine drills” — the measurable numbers that NFL teams collect to get a sense of the player’s potential.

“I feel like just a normal offseason workout is just weights, getting stronger or working on your speed,” Daniels said. “Like yeah, that all correlates. But I feel like with this combine, you know what we're going to test. Like the 40(-yard-dash), the (vertical jump), the shuttle, broad jump. So it's just more specific toward those than just general training.”

Governor Greg Abbott signed a statewide shelter-in-place executive order on March 30, changing every prospect’s routine. TD3 Fitness closed its doors, forcing Daniels to move his workout location to his old high school, Clear Creek. Texas State locked up all of its fields on campus, leaving Hines scrambling to find place to train.

Linebacker Bryan London II, the program’s all-time tackling leader, represented by Higher Calling Sports, moved back in with his parents and was surprised by how much workout equipment they had in the house. He was lucky.

“Between my garage and my neighbor's, we have a lot of things at my disposal,” London said. “So I feel like I've been getting in really good work. I've been able to run and everything, been getting in time on the field, just doing football-related stuff.”

Each player’s done the best that they can to keep progressing, given the circumstances. One side effect Hines wasn’t prepared for was how much staying at home — surrounded by snacks — would affect his diet.

The biggest blow to every player's draft stock, though, was the cancellation of Texas State’s Pro Day. With no Bobcats receiving an invite to the NFL Draft Combine, it was essentially their only chance to introduce themselves to teams in person.

Head coach Jake Spavital said the team had made gear with the names and numbers of each prospect for them to wear during the workouts. The event was scheduled for April 1 — piggybacking off the University of Texas at Austin’s Pro Day, allowing scouts to knock out two schools in one day.

It was all for naught.

“Unfortunately, it just is not going to happen because the draft is going to continue on. The NFL's going to continue its course,” Spavital said. “It would've been huge for those guys.”

Hines said the importance of a Pro Day for him, on a scale from one to 10, would have been a 10.

“I'm in the same boat,” London said. “Right now my biggest knock is just, you know, my competition. And (the scouts) wanted to see my athleticism now so I'm on an even level as all the Power 5 schools. Just to see how, on an even field, how I stack up against them. So it definitely hurt because this was a big opportunity for us.”

“We've been training for like 10 weeks. We've been training for a long time,” Daniels said. “But I guess it is what it is.”

The best alternative the prospects have is producing a virtual Pro Day — recording themselves going through the “combine drills” and sending the video out to every team.

But a virtual Pro Day only provides teams with the tangibles, not the intangibles that comes from meeting face-to-face.

All three players said they just want an opportunity to play. Hines said he recently began negotiating with the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts.

“If I get my foot in, if I walk into a facility, I don't plan on walking out,” London said.

The NFL closed their facilities March 25. And with everyone stuck at home, it’s tough to even stick a foot out.

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