PULLMAN — Friday is Pro Day on the Palouse, when NFL and CFL scouts descend on Pullman to put outgoing Cougar seniors through a series of drills to see if they have what it takes to compete at the next level. In talking with three of the Cougs who will be on hand, there is no getting around it: They consider this audition one of the biggest days of their lives.
No Cougars were invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last month, so Pro Day represents a the golden chance to make an impression.
Alex Hoffman-Ellis has been training nonstop for Pro Day since he graduated in December, putting himself through two-a-day drills in his native southern California. The 6-1, 231-pound outside linebacker said he spent mornings working on speed and agility, and afternoons in the weight room.
“I definitely feel confident,” said Hoffman-Ellis, the Cougars’ leading tackler in 2011 and 2009 and a second-team all-Pac-12 pick in ’11. “I can’t wait to go out there and do my thing with fellow seniors and fellow Cougs.”
Hoffman-Ellis is rated the No. 29 OLB prospect out of 229 in this year's class by NFLDraftScout.com, one of the leading followers of the pro talent chase. He is pegged the No. 339 overall prospect, which would put him into free agency rather than a drafted spot.
Hoffman-Ellis signed with Ascent Sports, an athlete and talent agency that represents such players as New England’s Sammy Morris, and former Coug Jason Hanson of the Detroit Lions.
“I’m pretty well informed on the process,” Hoffman-Ellis said. “April becomes the busiest month. After Pro Day, teams can either work you out at your college or somewhere local. I’ll be going back to L.A. after and see where things go from there.”
B.J. Guerra spent the two months following graduation in December training at the Philippi Sports Institute in Las Vegas. His chief focus was on running mechanics in order to get his 40 time down. Guerra said the staff had it down to a science and the key was for him to get under six steps in the first 10 yards. Guerra just returned from Vegas, and has been working out at his alma matter, Moses Lake High, in preparation for Friday.
B.J. GUERRA: 36 starts in Cougar career, including 24 straight.|
“First of all I just want to put myself out there and show the teams that I’m athletic,” said Guerra, a 6-3, 321 pound guard who started 24 straight games for the Cougs and earned honorable mention all-conference honors the last two seasons. “I can do things they’re expecting to see and I’m going to go out there with personal goals for time and repetitions.”
Guerra also signed with an agent in December, the Foster-Easley Sports Management Group. He said they expect he’ll be invited by several NFL teams for private workouts following Pro Day.
“I wanted to do this since I was a little kid,” Guerra said. “It’s become a reality and you want to do everything in your power to show what you have to offer because there’s guys across the nation doing the same thing.”
For Aire Justin, it seemed like Pro Day would never come. The 5-11, 165-pound corner spent the entire 2011 season on the sidelines after being deemed ineligible for a controversial failing of a drug test by the NCAA. Justin remained with the team, though, helping coach Jody Sears run drills.
AIRE JUSTIN: 77 tackles and 2 INTs in first three seasons.|
After graduating from WSU in December, he trained at Showtyme Performance in Arizona, and then moved home to California and began focusing on his 40 time. Justin told CF.C that he ran a 4.38 hand-timed 40 back in early January and hopes to be right around that time Friday.
Justin had two interceptions back in 2010, and was known not only for his quickness, but also his impressive leaping ability.
He has signed with sports agent Chris Ellifon. Justin said that he and Ellifon know that Justin’s chances of making the league took a big hit because he didn’t play in 2011, but that’s not going to stop him from continuing to get his name out there in any professional rank.
“We understand the difficulties,” Justin said. “I’m hoping to sign with a team. We’re just looking to get into some camps. My goal is if the NFL doesn’t work right now I’ll try for the CFL and keep working my way up.”
In addition to Hoffman-Ellis, Guerra and Justin, QB Marshall Lobbestael, OL David Gonzales, DL Brandon Rankin, RB Logwone Mitz, WR Jared Karstetter and OL Andrew Roxas are expected to participate in Pro Day. CF.C has not confirmed WR Isiah Barton, who injured a knee late in the season, or others.