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Working toward the NFL

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On a breezy, not-quite-spring day in which the sun made only fleeting afternoon appearances, Chase Reynolds stood out a little at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

The Florida rays will do that for you. That's where the Drummond product has been taking online classes, working out six times a week and, he admitted, tanning.

Reynolds, the University of Montana's career touchdowns leader, was among 10 players from UM and some NAIA schools across the state who worked out Monday for nine NFL scouts.

He stood out in the stadium, too, though quite a few athletes - like Griz safety Jimmy Wilson, who ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash - had impressive days.

"Chase and Jimmy and Eric (Stoll, another Griz safety) did really well," said Griz O-line coach Bob Beers, who spent many years as an NFL scout before returning to UM's staff last year. "(Guard) Russ Piette did well. (Cornerback Brandon) Dodson was in the 4.5s."

Dodson ran a 4.52-second 40 and that is plenty fast on what was a pretty raw day. The NFL scouts are interview-shy - company policy - but Beers said most of the players should be encouraged.

"Field turf, outdoor, not ideal conditions," Beers said of the setup, which is reduced to an acronym on the reports. "FTO2. And they always compensate for the weather and the conditions of the turf.

"The wind was blowing so they had to time them running both ways. Surprisingly, some guys ran faster into the wind."

Wilson was extremely consistent: He ran a 4.52 to go with his 4.51. Dodson clocked 4.52 and 4.54.

Reynolds was at 4.58 and 4.61. He said his training in Florida, part of which was spent with Olympian sprinter Ato Boldon of Trinidad, was time well-spent.

"Absolutely," he said. "Just seeing guys and the way they were doing things... A lot of it is just technique. I think it definitely helped. We had former NFL scouts helping us down there."

The day began with the lifts and jumps, and Reynolds allowed that his bench press - he got 225 pounds up eight times - was not yet up to par.

"After the Cat game I'm still healing up," he said. "That's not bad considering I couldn't even bench a month ago. But I knew I had to pick it up out here."

Reynolds' time in the 3-cone drill was 6.80 and he did the 20-yard shuttle in 4.25 seconds. Beers rated those times high.

Among the non-Griz there were Rocky Mountain quarterback Kasey Peters and Bubby Bartlett and Gary Wagner of Carroll College.

Wagner and Peters threw passes in drills for the defensive backs and offensive players, including Griz tight end Rob Overton.

Before that Wagner clocked 4.69 in the 40. It didn't look as fast as his 83-yard TD burst that helped Carroll beat Sioux Falls in the NAIA title game last December.

"It wasn't," Wagner said. "Nobody was chasing me."

Wagner spent the last two weeks working out with fellow Havre native and Griz great Marc Mariani. Mariani, a Pro Bowl kick returner for Tennessee, was among several dozen people watching Monday's workouts. His high school teammate liked the nerves that came with the crowd.

"They were good nerves," Wagner said. "I miss that before-the-game kind of feeling. I just wanted to get after it again, wanted to compete. I was excited though to be out here; this was a fun little atmosphere."

Wagner will get a little FTO2 adjustment on his 40, which he shrugged off.

"Slow starts," he said. "It is what it is. I was happy with all my other times and I threw the ball pretty well."

Beers joshed the scouts, most of whom he knows. Beers mentioned that two years before, when he was a Houston Texans employee, he clocked the fastest 20-yard shuttle he'd ever seen at this same stadium.

He clocked Colt Anderson at 3.7 seconds, and another scout clocked the Butte Missile at 3.8. Figuring they'd both mistimed, they made Anderson run it again - and came up with the same times.

"Then we got in a bidding war with the Minnesota Vikings," Beers said.

Bidding wars for Wilson, Stoll and Reynolds may or may not be in the offing. One sad note is that Griz defensive end Severin Campbell, who had his promising senior season curtailed by a knee injury, tweaked his hamstring during the 40.

Still, Beers rated the day as a success.

"I've been to a lot of these," he said. "I went to about eight a year for 15 years. Each one is an adventure - you don't know what to expect. But this one was impressive."

Fritz Neighbor can be reached at 523-5247 or at fneighbor@missoulian.com.

 

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