Former Bulls Increase Their NFL Stock At Pro Day

D’Ernest Johnson at USF Pro Day. Photo: OCTAVIO JONES, Tampa Bay Times.

On a sunny Monday morning, 23 former USF Bulls took part in drills and strength tests to showcase their talent at USF’s Pro Day. 40 scouts from 30 NFL teams and two Canadian Football League teams, including five coaches, showed up to the Bay Area to watch the record-breaking 2017 class show out.

The group impressed scouts with surprising standout performances from running back Darius Tice and cornerback Deatrick Nichols.

“We knew a lot of scouts were going to come in,” Nichols told Tom Zebold of USF Athletics. “We had a good class, everybody played well and did well, like our class was supposed to do. I just enjoyed playing with my guys one more time and the rest is history.”

Nichols turned heads with a 37-inch vertical, 10’7” broad jump, and a blazing 4.32 40-yard dash.

“I heard I had some good times, but I’m just happy I did what I had to do,’ Nichols said to Nathan Bond of SB Nation. “[The scouts] loved what I did and said that I did everything well.”

While Nichols was increasing his NFL stock, Tice was on the same mission. The running back led the Bulls benching 225 pounds for 27 reps. That mark would’ve been third among running backs at the NFL Combine behind Penn State RB Saquon Barkley (29) and Georiga RB Nick Chubb (29). He solidified his day with a 4.68 40-yard dash and 9’11” broad jump.

Many Scouts Still Aren’t On The ‘Flowers As QB’ Boat

Former quarterback Quinton Flowers elected to sit out of running the 40-yard dash, satisfied with his 4.63 time at the Combine. The Miami native only took part in throwing drills, which showcased an accurate, sharp arm. Still, scouts are wary Flowers’ 5’11” height will hinder his ability to compete in the NFL.

SB Nation reported hearing multiple scouts comment that “we saw today that he won’t make money playing QB”.

“I’m a guy that’s willing to help the team and do whatever it takes to win, but my first priority is quarterback,” Flowers said to USF Athletics. “It’s not about the height, it’s not about the size. It’s about the heart.”

The quarterback also took part in running back and wide receiver drills yesterday. As of now, it seems the Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers are extremely interested in Flowers. He has private workouts lined up to work out as a quarterback, running back and slot receiver.

Special Guests At USF Pro Day

Former USF quarterback B.J. Daniels (2008-12) also participated in USF’s Pro Day after an injury brought his 2017 season to an end. Drafted by the 49ers, Daniels has a Super Bowl ring with Seattle and has played for Houston, the Giants, Chicago, and Atlanta.

Daniels is “definitely expecting” to be picked up by a team in 2018.

More Standout Performances

    • Running back D’Ernest Johnson earned comments from his previous coach, now FSU’s head coach, Willie Taggart. “I guess if there’s a big surprise to most people — not necessarily with me — it would be D’Ernest Johnson,” Taggart told Tampa Bay Times’ Joey Knight last week.”I call him ‘Junkyard Dog’ for a reason — he can do it all. Again, he’s gonna make a GM look like a genius. The kid’s a football player, he can play. You put him in there, he’s gonna compete, he’s gonna make plays.”Johnson holds USF’s all-time leading record in all-purpose yards (4,186) and receiving yards for a running back (909). He ran a 4.60 40-yard dash and had a 9’9” broad jump and 20 reps. He impressed scouts catching balls out of the backfield. His all-around athleticism gives him the ability to serve teams in a number of ways.
    • Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling is projected to be a seventh-rounder, but he could go sooner after showing off his hands on Monday and speedy 4.37 40-yard dash at the Combine.”(The scouts) will come and tell you the greatest things, but you never know what is said behind closed doors,” Valdes-Scantling said to the Times. “So you just have to wait ’til draft day to figure it out.”
    • Defensive tackle Deadrin Senat is still expected to be the first Bull drafted in the third or fourth round.”Every coach is telling me they can’t wait to see me do some more position work,” he said to USF Athletics. “It’s been a great last couple months for me, getting my name out there and showing I can play ball.”Senat impressed scouts during drills, which were ran by New York Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rogers.

  • Defensive end Mike Love also had a productive day impressing scouts with 24 reps on the bench press and a 10’1” broad jump.”I think what they really like is I can do both linebacker and defensive line. They said I have pretty good hips and I showed my athleticism,” Love told USF Athletics.

Grab your popcorn and sit back because we’re now diving head first into the Draft and it’s shaping up to be an interesting ride.

Allison Leslie is a University of South Florida graduate with a bachelors degree in Mass Communications. She joined Genesis in 2016. With a passion for sports, Allison has interned with 620 WDAE, Pewter Report, Trifecta Team: St. Petersburg Bowl, Bullscast, and many other publications. Being a native to the Bay Area, she has followed and supported Tampa Bay teams her whole life.