On the list of the hundreds of college football players invited to this year’s NFL combine, buried beneath national champions and future first-round draft picks, is a 6-foot-3 ½, 255-pound defensive end who used to patrol the field at Missoula County Stadium as a high schooler.
Zack Wagenmann, a former Montana Grizzly great and local Missoula Sentinel product, will later this month attend the NFL scouting combine, a week-long showcase of collegiate talent ahead of the draft later this spring. The combine runs Feb. 17-23 at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts.
Prospective pros will perform a series of physical and mental tests in front of NFL scouts, coaches and general managers in hopes of impressing a few potential employers. The draft begins the weekend of April 30.
"It's a great honor," said Wagenmann, who found out he'd get a chance to go to Indianapolis a few weeks ago, though the NFL only released the combine invitation list Friday. "Definitely, it's a great opportunity to showcase myself alongside some of the big school guys."
Wagenmann holds a bevy of Grizzly football career marks, including sacks (37 ½), tackles for loss (49), and forced fumbles (his 6 tied the school mark). The senior, who graduated from UM in December to begin training at California Strength in San Ramon, California, had 17 ½ sacks this past season with 22 ½ stops for loss. He earned four All-America team nods.
The Montana team captain and holder of the No. 37 legacy jersey also appeared in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl all-star game last month, recording a sack in the contest.
Defensive linemen and linebackers will hold their workouts on Sunday, Feb. 22, with television coverage available on NFL Network.
Among the athletic drills that combine attendees must complete are seven tests of agility, strength and speed. Players will be timed in a 40-yard dash as well as three shuttle drills to test quickness when changing direction. They will also be measured for vertical and horizontal leaping abilities and bench press.
"We're pretty well versed in all those kind of things they'll do at the combine," Wagenmann said, speaking of his training at California Strength. "We've been working hard on agility and strength training.
"First thing is we've got to focus on the combine and then we'll start working on some football-specific workouts and prepare for that stuff."
Then comes the Wunderlic cognitive ability test, a 50-question multiple-choice test to be completed in 12 minutes that measures problem-solving abilities, as well as math, vocabulary and reasoning skills.
Wagenmann -- along with a handful of Grizzly grads and former players -- will also have a chance to show their skills on March 9 as well at Montana's pro day. Several pro scouts will be in attendance in Missoula to see the Griz work out.
Wagenmann is one of three Big Sky Conference players to garner an invite to the 2015 combine. Eastern Washington safety Tevin McDonald and Portland State punter Kyle Loomis are the other two.
Four-time defending FCS national champion North Dakota State will send a pair of players in running back John Crockett and defensive end Kyle Emanuel.
The Bison, which beat Illinois State for title No. 4 on Jan. 10, are the Grizzlies next opponent. The teams open the 2015 football season Aug. 29 at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in a nationally televised event.
Montana sent linebacker and fellow Missoula-native Jordan Tripp to the NFL combine last year before he was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the fifth round. Griz cornerback Trumaine Johnson and linebacker Caleb McSurdy also worked out at the combine in 2012. The St. Louis Rams drafting Johnson in the third round before McSurdy went to the Dallas Cowboys in the seventh.