Behind the Southern Miss Pro Day
Former Southern Miss athletes partake in the annual campus Pro Day, inviting athletes not just at USM, but anyone around the Hattiesburg- area who wants to have a shot at the NFL.
“I’m glad it’s over,” said former defensive lineman Dylan Bradley who had 15.5 tackles for loss and a team-leading 8.5 sacks on the season in his senior year. “I’m glad I can go on to the next phase of this and wait for my name to be called.”
Several former Southern Miss stars Nick Mullens and D.J. Thompson partook in the Pro Day, with also former center Cameron Tom, who looks to be a mid-round selection in the NFL Draft, starting on April 27.
“Any team that calls on me, I’ll be happy to talk,” Tom said. Some prospects are looking to boost their draft status, others are just trying to get on the draft boards.
“I feel like I did a lot of things explosive-wise, but I don’t feel like I conditioned myself as well as I can,” Thompson said. “I need to condition myself to be ready for minicamp to go, go, go and not get tired. Hopefully, I get my shot just like all of us.”
Other former USM players D’Nerius Antoine, Shawn Brickley, Elijah Parker and even 2015 graduates Michael Smith and Casey Martin all showcased their talents.
Dylan Bradley ran an official 4.91 40-yard dash time, moving his sub-300 lb. frame at a speed that got the attention of both the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints, who he will visit for workouts before the April draft.
Tom on the other hand, who has a visit with the Chargers on April 6, took an intelligence exam with the Miami Dolphins after the Pro Day. As a center, Tom knows that its imperative to be cerebral in his approach on the field.
“It’s a pretty big deal to be smart as a center because you have to deal with the protections,” Tom said. “Defenses in the NFL are getting smarter every day.”
Other players such as C.J. Perry, Oliver Bates and Martin performed admirably on the bench press, pressing at least 26 reps each on the bench press. Thompson led the group with a 37 1/2 inch vertical jump, showcasing his ability to reach the high point as a receiver.
“I felt like everyone’s numbers were kind of expected of them,” Thompson said. “A lot of us [set personal records] today. It was a positive day for a lot of us.”
Mullens, who has a visit with the San Francisco 49ers, ran a 4.87 in the 40-yard dash, a mark that he is proud of. With a productive arm in college and with an ability to showcase that he has the wheels to make runs in the NFL, Mullens believes that he has a shot to have his name called on draft night.
“Just prove that I’m big enough, strong enough, fast enough and that I can make all the throws,” Mullens said. “Mentally, I know I can do it. Now, I just got to get people believing. As many opportunities I can get to show scouts that I can play, I’m going to take advantage of that.”
To wrap up the day, Mullens (who has been working out in Madison, Miss. with fellow prospects Tom and Bradley, said what an honor it would be to represent Southern Miss in the NFL.
“Just another opportunity to come out here and represent Southern Miss one more time and show the scouts that I’m good enough to play,” Mullens said. “Worry about the things you can control. Just take it one step at a time and enjoy the process. If you give it all you got, you’re going to get an opportunity.”