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As the final chapter of the current school year begins Tuesday, students are walking into their classrooms with new school supplies in their backpacks, a new schedule in their planners and a playlist of spring break stories at the tip of their tongues.
Accounts of Mexico trips, outdoor adventures and hometown reunions are echoing across campus, but 13 Cal Poly football players had a much different week off — one that involved little relaxation and no sleeping in.
This past Thursday, eight teams from the NFL sent scouts to Cal Poly’s Upper Sports Complex to evaluate the players, more than any other time in recent memory. Scouts watched the players through the 40-yard dash, pro shuttle, three-cone drill and long shuttle drills.
For the 13 seniors on the field, it was the day they trained hard for all offseason and the opportunity they have dreamed of since strapping on pads for the first time.
“Three months of long work,” former safety Alex Hubbard said when describing the time leading up to NFL Pro Day. “Three months of weight room every day, running every day, 40 starts every day. No days off really, except Sunday.”
Only 1.7 percent of college players go on to play professional football, according to numbers given to the website Business Insider by the NCAA, and many believe former Cal Poly defensive lineman Sullivan Grosz, linebacker Johnny Millard and slotback Cole Stanford have the best chance of making it to the next level.
Grosz went into NFL Pro Day with a game-day mentality and he used the comfort of his teammates to ease the butterflies, knowing the importance of Wednesday’s drills in relation to his future, he said.
“I wanted the scouts to see me in person,” Grosz said. “Being from San Luis Obispo, we’re in the middle of two big cities, it’s kind of hard to come out and see a game but I don’t look the same on film, I just look like another guy. For them to see me in person, see my numbers, see my height, see my strength and my explosiveness. I knew if I got them here, they were going to like me.”
Millard spent his offseason preparing by playing in a pair of prestigious all-star games. Millard suited up with the best NFL draft prospects in college football in the Medal of Honor Bowl and the East West Shrine Game. He was just the fifth player from the Cal Poly program to play in the shrine game and the first to play in two all-star games.
“I played with a lot of so-called higher competition,” Millard said of the experience. “It showed that there’s not a big difference between the levels. I just went out there and showed that we can hang with those guys. It gave us the confidence that we can go and play at the next level.”
For players like Hubbard, dreams of the NFL may be just dreams, but that did not stop him from going out and leaving it all on the field for the scouts to digest.
“I can go to Europe to keep playing, Canada, stay in America and keep playing in the Arena League,” Hubbard said. “Doesn’t matter, I just want to keep playing football.”
Hubbard ran the fastest 40-yard dash at NFL Pro Day, darting across the finish line in 4.51 seconds, and says the results will be posted for both the international leagues and the arena leagues to see.
“A lot of people that are working during the Pro Day just want to keep playing somewhere,” Hubbard said. “A lot of us just love the game of football and want to keep playing.”