Another step in the NFL draft process took place at Rutgers on Wednesday, with scouts from throughout the league converging at The Bubble next to High Point Solutions Stadium to see draft-eligible Scarlet Knights look to improve their draft stock.
The star of the group, wide receiver Leonte Carroo, was in attendance but did not participate in the day's drills, as the star wideout revealed he will have an individual Pro Day at Rutgers later this month.
The rest of the group included LB Steve Longa (who already worked out for scouts at the NFL Combine), offensive tackle Keith Lumpkin, running back Paul James, defensive end Djwany Mera, linebackers Quentin Gause and Kaiwan Lewis, and fullback Sam Bergen. Kicker Kyle Federico and punter Joey Roth were also in attendance, but did not participate in the standard Combine drills.
Rutgers also welcomed a couple familiar faces back to the banks for Pro Day, as quarterback Gary Nova and running back Savon Huggins returned to join their former teammates. Nova did not participate in drills, instead throwing for scouts, while Huggins participated in just about everything.
During his Rutgers career, Huggins was best known for not living up to the expectations that came with being a five-star recruit and the top New Jersey recruit of the 2011 class. After four uninspiring seasons on the banks, Huggins transferred to Northern Iowa.
But Huggins looked the part of a strong prospect on Wednesday, as the speed and athleticism that made him a top recruit showed at Pro Day. Huggins led all participants in the 40-yard dash, clocking in at 4.56 seconds. His jumping ability also shined through, placing first in the broad jump (10"3') and second in the vertical (36 inches), behind just Gause.
Speaking of Gause, he also enjoyed a strong Pro Day as he looks to take his talents to pros. In the all-important 40-yard dash, the linebacker recorded a 4.75 second run, comparable to the 4.76 second dash Wisconsin linebacker Joe Schobert ran at the NFL Combine. Schobert is projected to be a mid-round pick in May's draft.
Gause also displayed impressive strength, leading all defensive players in the bench press with 23 reps.
Perhaps Gause's best work came in the change-of-direction drills. Gause led all participants in the 20-yard shuttle (4.15 seconds), three cone drill (7.00) and 60-yard shuttle (11.53).
Gause has been a lynchpin of the Scarlet Knights' defense over the past few years, and seems to be in good position to hear his name called at some point during the upcoming draft. Even before today, he was already receiving recognition, as he was invited to play in January's NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
One of the bigger storylines heading into Pro Day was the performance of Longa, who chose to forgo his final season at Rutgers to prepare for the draft. His results at the Combine were good-not-great, so he went into Pro Day looking to improve. Improve he did, as he participated in five drills at Pro Day, and enhanced his results in each.
Most notably, Longa appeared stronger, adding two reps to his bench press, going from 19 at the Combine to 21 at The Bubble. In the 40, Longa shaved .10 seconds off his time, improving from 4.78 to 4.68. Already an exciting athlete, Longa seems to have improved his draft stock just a couple months away from the draft.
James looked good and healthy at Pro Day, too. He managed 34.5 inches on his vertical, nine feet and 11 inches on his broad jump, and a 4.73 40-yard dash.
Big man Lumpkin, who skipped the 40 as he deals with a minor groin strain, showed predictably impressive strength, completing 23 reps at the bench press. But even that wasn't enough to lead the group, as fullback Sam Bergen ran away with the bench, totaling 28 reps.
Lewis, who spent one year with Rutgers after joining the team as a grad transfer from South Carolina, had his best showing in the three cone drill, finishing in 7.17 seconds, good for second among the Scarlet Knights behind Gause.
In a day where former Scarlet Knights Mohamed Sanu, Michael Burton and Jamaal Westerman visited, perhaps we witnessed the beginning of another Rutgers-to-NFL career today.
Scouts from 28 NFL teams at #RFootball pro day. No reps from Falcons, Chargers, Steelers or Cardinals.— Dan Duggan (@DDuggan21) March 9, 2016
Complete results from 2016 Rutgers Pro Day: pic.twitter.com/dalTItacfB— Greg Johnson (@gregp_j) March 9, 2016