STATESBORO - The Georgia Southern football program hosted its annual NFL Pro Day Thursday at Paulson Stadium, giving 14 former Eagles a chance to perform in front of professional scouts from two different leagues.
The star of the day was Matt Breida, who put up numbers that would have put him among the elite running back performers at the NFL Combine. The Brookville, Florida, native weighed in at 195 pounds, ran a 4.38 (hand-timed) 40-yard dash, bench pressed 225 pounds 23 times and put up a 42-inch vertical jump along with a 134-inch broad jump. Those numbers taken by the scouts in attendance Thursday would have been second, tied for third, first and first, respectively, out of 33 running backs who tested at last month's NFL Combine.
Breida said he competed with a chip on his shoulder, feeling that he should have been invited to the Combine.
"I've always wanted to go to the Combine," he said. "I'm not mad that I didn't get invited. Everything always happens for a reason and God has a plan, but I definitely had a chip on my shoulder. I'm really happy with my performance today and I'm looking forward to the NFL. It was great being back out here at Paulson Stadium with Erk's statue and being on this field one more time with my brothers to showcase our talents."
With weather looming, the schedule was altered to try and beat the rain. After taking the prerequisite heights and weights, the 14 players broke up into two groups with one taking part in the vertical jump and the other doing the broad jump. After switching spots, the players did the 225-pound bench press before heading outside in the rain. Scouts then gathered on the turf to time the 40-yard dashes and the cone drill and direct individual workouts. Despite the best efforts to avoid the wet stuff, Mother Nature dumped a good amount of rain on the players, somewhat hampering their times and drills.
Two players participating worked out at different positions than Eagle Nation grew accustomed to seeing them at. Kevin Ellison, who played quarterback for four years, worked with the wide receivers while Ironhead Gallon has moved from linebacker to safety.
"I think I did pretty good," Gallon said. "I had a couple of scouts come up to me and tell me that they enjoyed watching me. I've always been a safety at heart and I feel like that's the position that's going to give me the best chance to play at the next level and showcase my talents. It was special to be back out here today. I've been thinking about Paulson Stadium since that Troy game in December and to be able to come back out here today was a blessing."
Players who worked out were, in alphabetical order: Jake Banta (LS), Matt Breida (RB), Ryan Brown (RB), Montay Crockett (WR), Bernard Dawson (DL), Ukeme Eligwe (LB), Jay Ellison (DL), Kevin Ellison (WR), Ironhead Gallon (S), BJ Johnson III (WR), Darius Jones Jr. (DB), Younghoe Koo (K), Andy Kwon (OL) and Rayquan Sam (DB).
"Under the circumstances today, I feel like I did pretty good, but you can always do better," Eligwe said. "I ran my 40 in a good time, so I'm happy with that. I couldn't sleep last night thinking about today. I got up about three times and was tossing and turning all night thinking about the day. But it was such a blessing to be able to come out here today and end my career at Georgia Southern. I'm thankful, that after everything I've been through, I got to have a second chance and have the opportunity to shine today."
Among the NFL teams in attendance were the Seattle Seahawks, Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons and the BC Lions of the CFL.
The 2017 NFL Draft will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia.
Full times and results will not be released, however here are the top times in the main four tests:
Bench Press (225 pounds)
Jay Ellison, 28
BJ Johnson III, 27
Ukeme Eligwe, 25
Andy Kwon, 25
Ryan Brown, 24
Matt Breida, 23
40-Yard Dash (Best of Two Times)
Matt Breida, 4.38
Montay Crockett, 4.38
Ironhead Gallon, 4.57
BJ Johnson III, 4.56
Darius Jones Jr., 4.53
Ukeme Eligwe, 4.57
Kevin Ellison, 4.69
Matt Breida, 42"
Ironhead Gallon, 38.5"
Montay Crockett, 38"
Matt Breida, 11'2"
Montay Crockett, 10'11"
Ironhead Gallon, 10'10"
( From Georgia Southern Athletics )