Pro Day threatened

Former Ohio RB A.J. Ouellette runs through a drill in front of pro scouts during the Bobcats’ 2019 Pro Day, on Thursday, March 28, 2019 inside Walter Fieldhouse. Ohio’s 2020 Pro Day, scheduled for March 17, 2020, won’t be held as scheduled as Ohio’s campus and sports programs continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic blanketing the state

Note: This story appears in the Sunday, March 31 newspaper on Page B1.

A.J. Ouellette, a tightly-wound ball of muscle after three months of nothing but training, was wearing gear from his recently established ‘NO NAME’ apparel brand. The tag-line on the clothing — ‘Beat The Odds’ — was appropriate given the circumstances of the day.

Ouellette, and eight other former Ohio Football teammates, were trying — again — to get noticed. The group worked out in front of scouts from nearly every NFL franchise, and plenty from the CFL and AAF as well, as part of Ohio’s Pro Day on Thursday at Peden Stadium and inside Walter Fieldhouse.

None of the nine Bobcats, which included Ouellette (RB), offensive linemen Joe Lowery, Joe Anderson and Durrell Wood, RB Maleek Irons, WRs Papi White and Andrew Meyer, LB Evan Croutch and DB Kylan Nelson, were invited to the NFL Combine last month in Indianapolis. They all know the odds of hearing their name called during the NFL Draft in late April are slim.

This was their last chance to prove otherwise.

“You just go out and lay it all on the line out there,” said Wood, who hasn’t heard from any pro franchises yet about continuing his playing career.

“Right now all I can do is pray and hope for the best.”

It’s essentially the same story for all of the Bobcats, to varying degrees. White, the slot receiver with quickness, leaping ability and college highlight after highlight of terrific catches, showed off his speed with a pair of 40 times that both broke 4.5 seconds (4.47, 4.43).

It was good, but was it good enough? He was hoping to get an official time of 4.38.

“I felt good, felt comfortable out there,” White said, noticeably bigger than in his final playing season with Ohio.

White has great film. His size is a detriment, but coupled with his other numbers on Thursday is that package enough to earn a draft selection or a free agent tryout?

“With both of them put together, I feel like I’m OK,” he said.

No player, possibly, helped his cause more on Thursday than Ouellette. He banged out 32 reps on the bench press test — which would have placed him second among all running backs at the NFL Combine.

Ouellette was quicker than White in the shuttle and 3-cone drills. His vertical, 36.5 inches, would’ve been sixth at the combine. His official 40 times — 4.55 and 4.50 — placed him in the top 10.

He was explosive, and sure-handed. Ouellette said he can be a running back, a fullback or a slot option at the next level.

“I’m happy with my numbers. Everyone I talked to said the numbers I hit are what I need to get to get my foot in some team’s door. The rest is up to them,” he said.

“I know I’ve been training as a slot receiver. I know I can do that,” Ouellette continued. “Of course I can be a running back. And if they need me to gain some weight and pound some heads in the middle, I’ll be a fullback.”

Irons, who Ouellette split carries with in the backfield at Ohio last year, didn’t crush any particular category or test. He was under a 4.6 40 in both his runs, and scored “decent” in everything else, he said.

But Irons has two things going for him. First, he was able to compete on Pro Day which seemed like a long shot a few months ago.

Irons sat out Ohio’s bowl win over San Diego State after he developed what he called “stomach ulcers” on the day of the game.

“On game day they flared up. I was in the hospital that night, and I was in the hospital another night,” Irons said. “I did not want to be in Texas by myself (after the game), so I flew home and went from the airport to the hospital. I was in the hospital for another four days.”

He was on an IV. He lost 20 pounds in four days.

“It was bad.”

But he got better. And he looked in good shape on Thursday, and knows even if the NFL doesn’t give him a chance he’ll have a shot in the CFL in his native country of Canada. As a Canadian born football player, Irons wouldn’t count against the cap all CFL franchises have in regards to Americans on their playing rosters.

“It’s exciting to know I kind of got a two-way street where a lot of these guys have a one-way street,” he said. “It’s either the NFL or AAF for a lot of them. I can kind of lean toward a whole other league. It’s a nice, comforting feeling.”

For one Bobcat, however, the pinnacle ay of their college playing career was over early and in heart-breaking fashion. Joe Anderson, the burly guard who opened holes for Ouellette, Irons and White the last two years, severely injured his lower leg during the vertical jump portion of testing.

His day was over, as was his chance to make one last impression.

It left the entire Ohio contingent reeling.

“When he went down my stomach turned inside out. I almost got sick right there,” Ouellette said.

“He’s been training three months for this one day. I just hope his film showed enough. I loved running behind him the last couple of years,” he added. “I hope a team takes a shot on him because he’s a great person and a great o-lineman.”

Ouellette has been in talks with several teams about potential meetings or workouts. White, too, has had some interest. Joe Lowery, an offensive tackle with a terrific frame, brilliant film and strong testimonials, should get interest as the draft draws closer as well.

And Irons has half-a-dozen CFL teams potentially waiting in the wings.

The Bobcats showed what they had on Pro Day. Now it’s time to wait and see.

“Just looking for a chance,” White said. “Give me a chance and I can show you a lot more.”

2019 Pro Day results

Listed below are the official results logged from the pro day testing done at Peden Stadium/Walter Fieldhouse on Thursday, March 28, 2019. All nine Ohio players are included, although two other players — from non-Division I programs inside the state — also participated.

Joe Anderson, OL, 6-foot-5 inches; 320 pounds

Hand size — 10.48 inches; Arm length — 33.38 inches; Wingspan — 80 inches; Bench press (225 pounds) — 18 reps; Vertical jump — 28.5 inches.

Evan Croutch, LB, 5-11.7; 222

Hand — 9 inches; Arm — 30.48; Wingspan — 73.28; Bench — 25; Vertical — 35.5; Broad jump — 9 feet, 6 inches; 40-yard dash — 4.63 seconds/4.60 seconds; 20-yard dash — 2.66/2.64; 10-yard split — 1.64/1.63; 20-yard shuttle — 4.41; 60-yard shuttle — 11.53; 3-cone drill — 7.07.

Maleek Irons, RB, 6-0; 216

Hand — 9.58; Arm — 30.78; Wingspan — 76.38; Bench — 18; Vertical — 33.5; Broad — 9-11; 40 — 4.59/4.59; 20 — 2.63/ 2.71; 10 — 1.60/1.58; 20 shuttle — 4.21; 60 shuttle — 11.52; 3-cone — 7.2

Joe Lowery, OL, 6-6.1; 300

Hand — 9.68; Arm — 32.48; Wingspan — 78.68; Bench — 23; Vertical — 26.5; Broad — 8-5; 40 — 5.26/5.19; 20 — 3.05/3.00; 10 — 1.84/1.84; 20 shuttle — 4.97; 3-cone — 7.90.

Andrew Meyer, WR, 5-11.5; 183

Hand — 9.18; Arm — 29.38; Wingspan — 71.68; Bench — 17; Vertical — 33; Broad — 9-6; 40 — 4.63/4.59; 20 — 2.70/2.64; 10 — 1.63/1.60; 20 shuttle — 4.26; 60 shuttle — 11.38; 3-cone — 7.08.

Kylan Nelson, DB, 5-10.1; 196

Hand — 9.28; Arm — 31.38; Wingspan — 76.48; Bench — 15; Vertical — 31.5; Broad — 9-0; 40 — 4.50/4.53; 20 — 2.67/2.67; 10 — 1.63/1.64; 20 shuttle — 4.32; 60 shuttle — 11.19; 3-cone — 7.10

A.J. Ouellette, RB, 5-9.3; 208

Hand — 8.68; Arm — 28.78; Wingspan — 69.58; Bench — 32; Vertical — 36.5; Broad — 9-9; 40 — 4.55/4.50; 20 — 2.62/2.61; 10 — 1.62/1.57; 20 shuttle — 4.09; 60 shuttle — 11.21; 3-cone — 6.87

Papi White, WR, 5-8.3; 188

Hand — 8.68; Arm — 29.58; Wingspan — 71; Bench — 15; Vertical — 40; Broad — 10-2; 40 — 4.47/4.43; 20 — 2.57/2.56; 10 — 1.55/1.54; 20 shuttle — 4.46; 60 shuttle — 11.32; 3-cone — 6.93

Durrell Wood, OL, 6-2.4; 297

Hand — 10.58; Arm — 34; Wingspan — 82.58; Bench — 23; Vertical — 32.5; Broad — 9-1; 40 — 5.13/5.08; 20 — 2.94/2.97; 10 — 1.80/1.80; 20 shuttle — 4.71; 3-cone — 7.87.

Email at; follow on Twitter @JasonAmessenger

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