MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - If Gopher defensive lineman Steven Richardson had been invited to the NFL combine, he would have been tied for seventh place in the bench press.
But it's just as well that he wasn't, he says--it gave him a chance to prove himself at his team's pro day.
A few other Gopher football players put up impressive numbers in front of the 26 NFL scouts gathered in Minneapolis for the event, hoping ultimately to be selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.
"I'm just looking for an opportunity," said now-former Gopher linebacker Jonathan Celestin. "As soon as I get an opportunity, whatever team gives me a chance, I'm going to make them happy."
And though some of the attendees are sure to be drafted, many of them may not, getting their chance through free agency or a training camp invite. Though the outcome seems uncertain, players say, they're just happy to be given the opportunity to prove themselves--in whatever form that may take.
"For me it's exciting because this is what I wanted," said former Gophers defensive back Adekunle Ayinde. "It's what I dream about, it's what I go to sleep to, it's what I wake up to, so it was exciting being able to live out my dreams."