MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Six University of Minnesota football players and a handful of others from smaller area colleges got the job interview of a lifetime on Tuesday.
They got to showcase their strength, agility and skills in front of more than two dozen NFL scouts and representatives at the Gophers Pro Day. The hope is they did enough to at least get invited to a rookie camp, if not get a phone call during the NFL Draft.
Both Blake Cashman and Donnell Greene made what’s become a popular choice for college seniors not playing for a national championship. They skipped the Quick Lane Bowl and opted to use their time to get ready for the NFL Combine, and scouting process.
Cashman and Greene didn’t go through individual testing on Wednesday, but did on-field work in front of scouts. Defensive lineman Gary Moore impressed scouts with 18 reps on the bench press at 225 pounds. Other participants included Jacob Huff, Julian Huff and Emmit Carpenter.
Carpenter hits near 60-yarder
Emmit Carpenter was one of the most accurate kickers in Gophers history, and has been working tirelessly since the Quick Lane Bowl to boost his leg strength. He was all over the field at the indoor football facility Wednesday, hitting kicks from various distances and angles with scouts looking on.
Carpenter had a few misses, but converted on a try of nearly 60 yards with room to spare. His holder was the special teams coordinator for the Chicago Bears, Chris Tabor.
He said he’s been working to convert consistently from as far as 65 to 70 yards. He didn’t feel much extra pressure, despite a bigger crowd than normal watching his every kick.
“At the end of the day it’s just another chance to get out there and do my favorite thing in the world, put my foot on some footballs and hopefully get some attention,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter was 17-of-23 on field goals last season, including 4-of-6 from 30-39 yards, 4-of-6 from 40-49 yards and 2-of-3 from 50-plus yards. His longest of the season was 53 yards. He was the most accurate kicker in Gophers history, converting 53-of-67 career field goals. The 53 made kicks was third most in team history. His 276 career points ranks second in team history.
He’s been talking with former Gophers kickers, getting advice and staying focused. He’s hoping his phone rings in late April with a call to a rookie camp.
Greene coming back from knee surgery
Donnell Greene says he’s feeling about 80-85 percent after participating in on-field drills at the Gophers Pro Day. He opted to skip the Quick Lane Bowl both to get ready for an NFL future, and just to get healthy.
Greene nearly missed the Gophers’ loss to Northwestern after tearing the meniscus in his knee. He opted to play through it, and also played with the injury in Minnesota’s win at Wisconsin.
He started in 10 games last year for Minnesota, and played in 11. He was moving well in on-field drills on Wednesday and said he should be 100 percent in about three to four weeks, right around the time of the NFL Draft.
“A lot of guys are just telling me to try to stay healthy, attack rehab because you only get one shot. As long as I’m healthy, I feel like I’ll be able to have a great shot,” Greene said.
He’s hoping to be the first Gophers offensive lineman drafted since Mark Setterstrom and Greg Eslinger.
Cashman working for NFL dream
Blake Cashman got national attention for one of the better individual seasons in Gopher linebacker history. He got an invite to the NFL Combine after leading Minnesota last season with 104 tackles, including 15 for a loss and 2.5 sacks.
The Eden Prairie native was a second team All-Big Ten selection.
He made more noise at the NFL Combine after running a 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds. He also got 18 reps on the bench press at 225 pounds, and opted not to redo that at Wednesday’s Pro Day.
Instead, he went through individual on-field linebacker drills with Tennessee Titans linebackers coach Tyrone McKenzie. Cashman said the draft process is a grind between interviews and workouts, but it’s all worth it if you can get your name called in the NFL Draft.
It’s been more than even he expected.
“The excitement of getting closer to making your dream come true and working for something that you’re very passionate about is awesome,” Cashman said. “But your mind is staying busy with interviews, meeting with teams. I’ve been a lot more busy than I expected.”