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Football: NFL presence loomed large at Ohio State’s Pro Day as former Buckeyes made last efforts to impress scouts

Former Ohio State H-back Curtis Samuel works out for NFL scouts, GMs and coaches at Ohio State’s Pro Day at March 23, 2017 at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Credit: Jacob Myers | Assistant Sports Editor

Former Ohio State football players completed physical tests and drills in front of all 32 NFL teams, including nine head coaches and seven general managers at OSU Pro Day on Thursday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

OSU standouts cornerback Gareon Conley, center Pat Elflein, cornerback Marshon Lattimore, linebacker Raekwon McMillan and running back/wide receiver Curtis Samuel did not participate in the 40-yard dash, shuttle, L-Drill or broad jump, having performed at the NFL Combine earlier this month.

Wide receivers Noah Brown, Dontre Wilson and Corey Smith, linebacker Craig Fada and defensive back Jarrod Barnes also participated in the Pro Day and went through all of the workouts.

However, all of the players, including punter Cameron Johnston and kicker Tyler Durbin, demonstrated their skills during position-specific drills.

Elflein said he enjoyed reuniting with his teammates and going through the Pro Day process with them.

“It was fun to get back with those guys and compete one last time together,” he said.

The former Buckeye wide receivers ran crisp routes and displayed excellent ball skills by reeling in nearly all on-target passing attempts.

OSU defensive players showcased supreme footwork and moved well around the field. They did not demonstrate the same consistency catching passes as the wide receivers, as Conley and McMillan dropped a few passes. However, their drops could have resulted from errant throws by various coaches.

NFL coaches in attendance had an impact on the Buckeyes at Pro Day. McMillan said he met with Super Bowl champion coaches Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots, Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints and Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“When you first meet him (Belichick), you’re scared because he’s quizzing you,” McMillan said.

McMillan overcame his initial nerves and said he felt good about the Pro Day, including the Belichick meeting he had at 7 a.m. Thursday morning.  

The Buckeyes at Pro Day emphasized their excitement to be considered for the NFL Draft. They were not concerned with which pick they might be taken in the draft as they just want to make it to the NFL.

“Just getting drafted would be awesome,” Elflein said. “It would be a dream come true.”

Elflein might have been seeking an endorsement deal at Pro Day in addition to his NFL draft aspirations. He name-dropped Roosters as his usual draft day spot and occasional cheat meal.

“Please sponsor me,” Elflein said. “I’ll be your wingman.”

Former safety Malik Hooker did not participate as he continues to recover from surgery on a sports hernia and torn labrum.

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