CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - In front of 22 NFL scouts, 11 former University of Virginia football players took part in UVA Pro Day on Wednesday morning with the hopes of attracting interest from NFL teams ahead of April's draft.
"Every single .01 seconds, or every inch, every centimeter, every rep, it matters a lot," former Virginia linebacker Zane Zandier said.
"I don’t know how many hours of sleep I got last night, but it wasn’t a lot," former Virginia wide receiver Terrell Jana said. "Just super excited for the opportunity."
It's an opportunity that some former Wahoos have been waiting an extra year for. Last spring's Pro Day was canceled because of COVID-19, so players like former UVA wide receiver Hasise Dubois, who played his senior season in 2019, didn't get a chance to put their talent on display ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft.
"It’s been a battle. Being able to go a year without a Pro Day and going the whole NFL season without me getting a shot. It was hard," Duobois said. "I had a great senior year and that wasn’t enough for the NFL.You gotta go out there and give it your all and make the team, or push to take someone's spot. Every day they're looking for someone to replace you once you got that opportunity, so you gotta prove your worth."
The former Cavaliers hope to prove that worth not only through the Pro Day drills they take part in, but also by showcasing the strengths they bring to the table when off the field, an area of focus that former teammates and NFL personnel have advised them to key in on.
"The biggest thing I’ve heard is just being a pro, so making sure you’re always doing the right thing, always working hard, taking care of your body, knowing what you’re doing, being smart, just things like that," former UVA linebacker Charles Snowden said.
"Yeah, we can play ball, we can do all that, but also make sure we show how much of an asset we are to a team off the field, or outside of the playbook," Jana said.
This is the first Pro DAy for some Cavaliers, but for others like Hampton Roads natives Quin Blanding and Chris Peace, it's round two. They each have brief NFL experience, but were without teams in 2020 and look to reignite their NFL careers.
"Really cool seeing the older guys come back," Snowen said. "Chris Peace is like my big brother. He showed me the ropes, showed me the right way to do everything. To see him still have that same drive, that work ethic, I mean that's just super cool. Quin Blanding, UVA legend. To see him, interact with those guys, it was just a really cool experience overall.”
The former Wahoos will continue to train and communicate with teams ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, which begins April 29th.