Former Virginia Tech wide receiver Isaiah Ford was quite blunt when asked if he was pleased with his performance at the NFL Combine just a couple of weeks ago.
“No, not at all,” Ford said.
Wednesday gave Ford, along with several other Hokies, a chance at redemption. Virginia Tech hosted its annual Pro Day inside the frigid Indoor Practice Facility. In all, over a dozen players participated, most notably Ford, Bucky Hodges and Jerod Evans.
After running a 4.61 in the 40-yard-dash at the NFL Combine, Ford said that his main goal was to show scouts that number was a fluke. On Wednesday, Ford ran a 4.52.
“The 40 time was the biggest thing,” Ford said. “I knew I could run faster than I did. I feel like I play faster than any time I would run. Just to get that time today was a little bit of a relief. We can kind of relax and get back to playing football, go do route running and things like that. Things that really matter.”
— Ricky LaBlue (@RickyLaBlue) March 15, 2017
Ford has been working this offseason to gain a bit of weight. After entering offseason workouts at 183-pounds, Ford reached 198-pounds eventually and came in at 194-pounds at the NFL Combine. He said throughout that process, he’s stayed at 3.5 percent body fat.
Hodges decided not to run, which makes sense after putting together an impressive NFL combine showing. Hodges ran a 4.57 in the 40-yard-dash and registered a 134-inch in the broad jump, which was the best jump among tight ends in NFL history. Instead, Hodges focused on route running at Virginia Tech’s Pro Day, lining up more as a traditional, hand in the dirt tight end. Hodges specifically worked with tight end coaches from the Cincinnati Bengals and the New York Jets.
“I just don’t have any film with my hand in the dirt,” Hodges said. “I was asked to play receiver for the past year, played H-back the previous year. I just wasn’t asked to do it. I know they’re curious to see me do it. With my work ethic and my hunger, I know it’s something I can accomplish.”
Evans did not run either on Wednesday, but did make a variety of throws to Ford, Hodges and other receivers. Evans made several nice throws and showed good zip on his throws. Evans did not speak to the media after his workout.
— Ricky LaBlue (@RickyLaBlue) March 15, 2017
Sam Rogers, Ken Ekanem, Woody Baron, Nigel Williams, Jonathan McLaughlin, Augie Conte and Brenden Motley were among the other participants in Virginia Tech’s Pro Day. Among those, only Rogers and Ekanem received invites to the NFL Combine.
After his workout, Rogers said that he wanted another chance to show his athleticism to scouts before returning to more football-centric workouts.
“I was happy with everything besides the 40, and I wanted to improve my short shuttle a little bit,” Rogers said. “Other than that, just did position drills here.”
Baron, who did not receive an invite to the NFL Combine, saw Pro Day as a chance to show his senior season was no joke. Baron started all 14 games in 2016, registering 18.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
“I had some goals, some personal numbers I wanted to hit,” Baron said. “Just wanted to come out and be explosive, fluid and what not. Really just do my best and put it in the scout’s hands. I think I came out, gave my best effort and really, that’s all I can ask for.”
Even former Virginia Tech running back Trey Edmunds participated in Pro Day. Edmunds, who transferred to Maryland for his final year of eligibility, seemed quite happy to be in Blacksburg.
“It’s definitely a blessing,” Edmunds said. “It started with Coach Fuente, with him being the head coach and the guy in charge… everybody was just welcoming and they were willing to work with me. Whatever I needed from day one, they were there to give it to me. The old coaches, I knew if I needed something, they would give it to me. The teammates, everybody was just welcoming. All I can do is just smile and say thank you.”
Edmunds said that his main focus was showing scouts that he’s healthy. He suffered another injury at Maryland, breaking his right foot. Edmunds has been plagued with injuries throughout his career, suffering a broken leg in 2013. Edmunds finally got healthy midway through the 2014 season before breaking his collarbone in October 2014.
“I wanted to show scouts that I’m 100 percent healthy, that I’m able to do anything and everything,” Edmunds said. “I thought it was a good assessment, with me being able to get out here and do all the tests.”
With the Combine and Pro Day in the rearview mirror, the players are in a bit of a holding pattern until April 27, when the NFL Draft begins. Until then, players can schedule private workouts and visits with teams, as well as continue to work out on their own.
For Rogers, he’ll return home and work out there. He says that he doesn’t know where he might be selected, or even which team might take a chance on him. Either way, he’s happy to be past this point of the process.
“Now, you can work on more football-specific stuff,” Rogers said. “You’re basically training as a track athlete, which as you can see, I’m not. I like working on football stuff and trying to get bigger, stronger, working on cuts and football-specific drills. That’ll be fun.”
Hodges has meetings with the Cleveland Browns and the New Orleans Saints scheduled, but said that he’s not sure where he’ll be drafted.
“From here on out, it’s blind,” Hodges said. “A lot of teams to come in and work [me] out, and [I’m] about to have visits coming up. I have no idea where I can end up.”
Ford echoed Hodges’ remarks, saying he wishes he had a better idea.
“No, I absolutely hate it,” Ford said. “One of my biggest fears is just the unknown, not knowing where you’re going to be. I’m just ready for it to be over. Wherever I go, whoever takes me, I’m ready to just get there and get to work.”
Note: Official times and results of testing should be released later Wednesday evening. Please check back later for official times and results.