Seven Lakers participate in GVSU football pro day

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Bart Williams is measured at GVSU's pro day. Courtesy / GVSU Athletics

Brady McAtamney and Kellen Voss

Every athlete dreams of suiting up for a professional team one day, and on Thursday, March 21, several Lakers made a step toward making that dream a reality as Grand Valley State held their annual pro day at the Kelly Family Sports Center. Quarterback Bart Williams, wide receiver Nick Dodson, offensive lineman David Dawson, defensive linemen Dylan Carroll and Kwanii Figueroa, linebacker Tyree Horton and defensive back Jacob Studdard participated representing GVSU. 

“I think our guys are really prepared for this opportunity,” said GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell. “We have 10 (National Football League) teams here and a couple of (Canadian Football League) teams to evaluate our prospects. We probably don’t have a draftable guy in this group, we have a couple guys that could be undrafted free agents and get into camp. 

“I think what these scouts are looking for, they’ve seen the tape, they want to see some objective tests, and also see them do some football drills, and we’re happy to able to provide the building and platform for these guys to do that.”

Workouts and drills included 40 yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, bench press, cone drills and football related drills. 

While scouts generally value game tape over workout numbers, pro day drills can make or break what teams see out of the players they are interested in, as a less-than-impressive showing can cause questions regarding true potential while eye-popping numbers can force evaluators to reassess whether a player’s skills were overlooked.

“The film is resume, however we want to see what they’ve been doing since the end of the season; if they have passion and really want to play, they’ll be in really great shape,” said Atlanta Falcons scout Russ Bolinger. “If they aren’t, that shows their work ethic. From there, we look at their skill level. We’ll have them all run, catch passes – these guys are showing their explosiveness. If they get gassed too soon, we know they’re not in shape and they’re not that serious.”

The Falcons main interest was in Dodson, who they consider an inside receiver, as they feel his speed has potential to translate into the NFL. For him specifically, the 40 yard dash was most important as his athleticism is most likely to draw interest from teams. 

Perhaps the most intriguing prospect of the class was Williams, who left GVSU as the program’s career leader in pass attempts (1,396), completions (807), pass yards (12,410) and touchdowns (126).

“I think this day is really important for (Williams), he has a big opportunity.” Mitchell said. “There was a lot of QB depth at CMU when he was there, he threw in front of guys there. I think the biggest deal today is he has a scripted workout with Dodson and (wide receiver Jalen Bryant) that he’s worked out with. Having familiar targets is important, and it’ll be nice to see him throw to his favorite guys one last time.”

The newest crop of graduates hope to join linebacker Matthew Judon, cornerback Brandon Carr and tight end Nick Keizer – all of the Baltimore Ravens – as Lakers in the NFL once the league’s draft takes place from Thursday, April 25 to Saturday, April 27. If they go undrafted, they are free to sign with any team of their choosing in any league, ranging from the NFL, CFL and Alliance of American Football (AAF). 

“I’m really proud of our kids. They’ve put a lot of work in, and it’s nice to have the opportunity to do this,” Mitchell said. 

“A lot of these guys have undergraduate degrees – three of them have masters – and that really shows the type of work they’ve put in and the people they are. If we only had guys running that didn’t get degrees and weren’t good people, it wouldn’t reflect as well, so it really means a lot to me that these guys got a good education, being true student athletes on this platform.”