There were nearly two dozen NFL teams represented at the University of Montana’s pro day on Friday, and any number of them would like to have Caleb McSurdy suiting up and making big hits next fall.
Some of them, though, think it might happen on offense.
McSurdy was one of 22 players who went through several drills in front of NFL scouts at UM, including speed drills on the SprinTurf of Washington-Grizzly Stadium. He’d been through all of them before at the NFL scouting combine on Feb. 27, but that was at linebacker.
Some of these guys want McSurdy to play fullback.
“It’s awesome,” said the 242-pounder, who was the Big Sky Conference’s defensive player of the year. “There’s a few teams that just let me know that’s what they saw me at. They tell you, ‘Hey, we want to work you out as a fullback at your pro day,’ and you just do it.”
McSurdy earned all-conference honors at tight end as a senior at Borah High in Boise, Idaho, and also played some running back. It seems safe to assume he excelled.
“No, not really,” he said. “I was kind of a bruiser. And not to throw anybody under the bus, but my O-line wasn’t terrific. So there were a lot of 2-yard runs that took a lot of effort.”
Five years later he was back on that side of the ball, if only for an afternoon.
“Obviously they want to see you catch the ball and run some routes,” he said. “I went out and did that and felt pretty decent.”
McSurdy also re-tested in the 40-yard dash, and lowered his time from 4.97 at the combine to 4.68 and 4.70.
“Coach (Aric) Williams had me at 4.66,” McSurdy added. “I think he might’ve given me the home-town discount. But, good day.”
Trumaine Johnson, who was at the NFL combine with McSurdy, was happy with his marks in Indianapolis but still took part in position drills Thursday. The 6-foot-3 cornerback had plenty of work.
“They want to see change of direction, and a lot of hip turns, and staying low,” said the three-time all-Big Sky performer, who chased and hauled in passes thrown by Griz alum Cole Bergquist. “Me being so big, they wanted to see how it went. I think it went well.
“Some other scouts brought me aside and did some individual workouts, and so that was good – a lot of individual attention.”
A couple of 40 times jumped out Friday: Griz receiver Jabin Sambrano ran a 4.40-second 40 and teammate Donny Lisowski, a cornerback, did him a couple hundredths better.
“Jabin and I have been talking about this,” said Lisowski, who ran anywhere from a 4.35 to a 4.39, depending on who you talked to (and you couldn’t talk to the guys writing down the marks). “We’re right around the same speed, but we feed off that competition.”
So Sambrano, who ended his UM career with 19 TD catches, had a little bit higher vertical jump (37.5 inches to 35), while Lisowski did a little better in the broad jump (10 feet, 8 inches to 10-6).
“I was a little rusty, but at the same time I’ve been doing everything myself since football season ended,” Sambrano said. “I felt pretty good. There’s so much stress because you’ve got everybody on your back and on your head. But I think I did pretty good for only running for two months by myself.”
Lisowski had a little more company – he got on UM’s indoor track team.
“I only ran in three meets, and two were to qualify for the Big Sky championships,” said Lisowski, who finished fourth in the 60 meters at the league meet on Feb. 25 in Flagstaff, Ariz. “Personally I think track helps with the lengthening of muscles and just my all-around athleticism.”
A total of 17 Grizzlies took part in Friday’s drills, including offensive linemen Charles Burton and Jon Opperud and defensive linemen Bobby Alt, Bryan Waldhauser and Severin Campbell.
Campbell had a promising senior campaign in 2010 cut short by a knee injury; the 230-pound defensive end was timed through the 40 in 4.66 and 4.68 Friday; he also bench-pressed 225 pounds 23 times and went 10-6 and 35.5 in the jumps.
Opperud had 27 reps in the bench and noted his 10-yard split in the 40 was 1.76 seconds; USC’s Matt Kalil, regarded as the top O-lineman in this year’s draft, had a 1.69-second split at the NFL combine.
Johnson loved the opportunity he had in Indianapolis.
“It was a great experience, the competition level is at its highest,” said Johnson. “But people forget it’s a job interview. I met with 26 teams: Fourteen one night, 12 the other. But it went well. It went real well.”
“It was so cool to be there, honestly,” McSurdy said. “I enjoyed it. There’s some long days with the medicals and things like that, but when you realize you’re one of 300 dudes that get to be there – I mean you’ve got to look at it from that perspective and just enjoy it.”
And if you don’t like your times you can do them again.
“The 40 was the big thing,” McSurdy said, who like Johnson could go in the NFL Draft April 26-28. “If you have an opportunity to go do better, you’ve got to do go do it. That’s the way I looked at it.”
Fritz Neighbor can be reached at 523-5247 or at email@example.com.