Holy cross

Local prospects pursue their NFL dream on Holy Cross Pro Day

“A lot of these young guys, you think of them as little kids, probably one day it was their dream to play at that next level and then have the opportunity to show up in front of all these guys in the NFL, and to host that here at Holy Cross is pretty special,” said Holy Cross head coach Bob Chesney.

Patriots college scouting coordinator Brian Smith helped run the day in conjunction with other NFL scouts who all seemed very familiar with the process and each other, which might come as a surprise if the one considers how competitive things can get on Sundays in the fall. Smith and all of the scouts spend much of their spring traveling to attend Pro Days, as the teams complete their extensive research on all draft-eligible prospects.

“I really appreciate the schools that host the events and are so hospitable to us throughout the year to allow us to assess their players, and also they work on their own to help prepare their children for days like [Tuesday]”Smith said. “I’m sure it’s a high-stakes, high-pressure situation for the athlete – sometimes we forget he’s still so young and full of anxiety. Personally, I appreciate it when a place like Holy Cross goes out of its way to make the process as smooth and efficient for everyone so that the player has the best experience possible, because at the end of the day it’s about giving the player the best opportunity for success, even if that opportunity may only present itself during those three hours in front of the scouts that day.”

Pro Day also featured athletes from smaller local schools like Assumption, Framingham State, Bridgewater State and Ana Maria, as well as well-represented Ivy League institutions Harvard and Brown. Nearly every NFL team was in attendance, as scouts subjected prospects to height, weight and wingspan measurements, followed by the usual list of Combine drills like the vertical leap, the bench, the dash of 40 yards, the three-cone drill and the short shuttle.

A sense of opportunity permeated the day, as prospects supported each other vocally throughout the drills with family and friends watching proudly from the sidelines as they tried to make a lasting impression on one of the scouts who could change the trajectory of their lives. In the coming months.

It was also another opportunity for Perry to once again show his stuff as he caused quite a stir this spring with his performances both on and off the pitch as cameras caught Perry taking time. to clean garbage from a side line during the combine harvester. The quarterback’s pitching session at the end of practice was a highlight of the day as he connected on a wide variety of pitches, including some impressive downfield strikes.

Perry’s former Brown teammate Jakob Prall, whose draft process was cut short by COVID-19, was among the receivers group despite being out of football for nearly two years. Prall embodied what the day was like for players, as he still chases the dream while providing familiar handplay for his former QB.

“He was a hell of a player, and with COVID he kind of got left out and he’s been training ever since,” Perry said of Prall. “I love that, you know, guy who’s got nothing on his plate, who’s been training six days a week for two years and showed up today.”

That’s the kind of players and attitudes that were on display, good college football players giving their all just to try their luck with an NFL team later this spring.

“You know, it’s fun. You can throw the football, it’s great. The only thing that stinks is you don’t have pads and guys try to hit you,” said Perry said after the session. “We’ve been here six days doing the exact same thing, going through it, except when we’re here alone we can do it three, four times. We all love it. Everyone who plays this game is trying to play at the next level, love doing it. So that’s great.”

Also on hand to support Perry was former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Matt Hasselbeck, who made the trip to Worcester after forming a relationship with Perry while in Indianapolis for the Combine.

“Yeah, that’s cool, I got to meet him at the Combine and he’s a Massachusetts guy, a Massachusetts legend,” Perry said. “He talked to me a few times about the process and gave me some good advice.

“You know, people want to help you and, and that’s something they always say and it’s great to have people around you to help me and give me good advice.”

The road from Holy Cross Pro Day to the NFL may be long and uncertain, but for one day these little school prospects got all they could ask for, an opportunity, and that’s more than many others.

“I hope they had a great day,” Chesney said. “I hope they certainly maximize their abilities. I hope they get a chance to show everyone what they really are and that it doesn’t work for everyone, but at the same time can “To have a guy’s dream come true here on this pitch today is pretty special.”