By: Barry Barnes, Founder
Lake Forest, Ill – The final defensive group of the 2015 NFL Regional Combine entered the Walter Payton Center with a lot to prove at the Chicago Bears training facility.
The players wanted to prove that they belong in the NFL. Secondly, prove to the NFL Regional Combine organizers that they made the right decision of scheduling Sunday as an additional session, a day that was not originally implemented into the Combine schedule at the beginning of registration.
More members of the media were in attendance Sunday in hopes to capture the Next Big Thing before naming invites to the NFL Super Regional Combine, which will be held in Arizona on Mar. 21.
Before relishing in the idea of being invited to the “Super” down the road in Arizona, the defensive players embraced the now. This is the moment that they anxiously awaited.
And several ceased the opportunity.
The defensive backs were on their game. Many had great speed, which was demonstrated during their individual drills as they pursue the balls in flight. Some caught the eye of the scouts, yet it was difficult to witness who stood out from the bunch.
Here’s a few who took command of the day, including Justin Currie of Western Michigan who crushed his vertical jump.
Defensive back Tyree Hollins from Grambling showed great technique and ball catching skills. He was solid in his 40-yard and Short Shuttle tests, but when the ball was in the air, Hollins took off to grab it.
Eastern Illinois standout receiver Deonte Jackson is an aggressive pass catcher. When asked about how he prepared for the Combine, the Chicago native stated his trainer threw sharp, pinpoint passes to him from close range. When balls are aggressively drilled to him, he trained himself to angerly grab the pigskin out the air.
The 5-10, 185-pound receiver made his trainer proud because he effectively executed his craft as he was aggressively trained.
Damon Bateman from Graceland University was expected to attend the Denver workouts. Due to unfortunate weather delays that interrupted many travel plans this year, Bateman was unable to display his talents in Englewood, Colorado.
This time, he made it to the combine, ready to perform.
The high energy Bateman was sharp during his Back Pedal, Weave, 90 Degree Catch and “W”Drills as he dipped low and exploded high.
Apparently, the linebackers stole the morning as they were pleasing to the scouts.
Michael Carlisle of Jacksonville State University was anxious for his opportunity Sunday, considering his missed opportunity in Houston. Similar to Bateman, due to unforeseen circumstances, Carlisle was unable to attend his original scheduled session – which was held in Houston.
However, Carlisle didn’t view his absences in Houston as a misfortune. The Florida native stated that the Houston-held Combine was probably “not in God’s timing.”
“Everything is always in God’s timing, you know,” said the humbled linebacker.
Carlisle moved very well as he executed all his drills soundly, and drop just one pass. Carlisle is a workout junkie and was confident about his session.
Josh Alaeze of Central Connecticut State is a wide bodied linebacker that moves effortlessly. He’s light on his feet and moves on his toes.
The Baltimore native prides himself as being agile, versatile and have great hands. The proud Dunbar Poet credits his success to his deep roots in Baltimore’s tough inner city streets. And the uncompromising streets of Baltimore prepared him for Sunday and, hopefully, towards an NFL career.
The pride of Montclair State was represented well by defensive end Joseph Koonce. Better yet, linebacker? The scouts recognized Koonce’s ability of moving extremely well as a solid football player.
Never had Koonce exercised linebacker drills. He must have been lying because he flat out – killed it.
The stud of the defensive group for Sunday was Kansas Jayhawk Michael Reynolds. Reynolds is not just a linebacker, he’s a pure athlete. With a basketball and baseball background, Reynolds possesses great hand and eye coordination and it showed tremendously as he caught every pass and exploded off each drill.
Reynolds finished fourth in the country and first in the Big 12 in forced fumbles with five as he “gets after the ball” on each down. What was impressive about the 6-1, 240-pound athlete was his agility and catching ability. Reynolds accelerates to ball and, according to the Kansas native, to the quarterback. Last season, Reynolds led the team in tackles-for-loss with 14.5 and sacks (seven).
How was Reynolds was overlooked? Well, the football world will never know why, but he’s on the radar now. Along with many others who attended the 2015 NFL Regional Combine
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