UTEP hosts NFL pro day featuring a hopeful Hernandez
In front of a lively Sun Bowl stadium, different former Miners joined on Wednesday afternoon to showcase their talents for NFL pro day. But there was one man who rose above the others.
Former UTEP standout guard and current NFL hopeful Will Hernandez returned to his alma mater to sharpen his skills and display his talents in front of fans, former teammates and most importantly, NFL scouts.
“I made it clear that I wanted to have my pro day here,” Hernandez said. “They asked me if I wanted to do it in my hometown of Las Vegas. I said no way. Everyone is going to get their fair share. I’m glad I did it.”
Draft analysts and NFL media members project Hernandez to be picked up in the late first round or early second. He finished his NFL combine outing in late February where he raised a lot of eyebrows, so now it becomes a waiting game for Hernandez.
“As long as I get picked up, it doesn’t matter to me,” he said regarding his draft stock. “I just need an opportunity.”
Scouts that came out to see Hernandez included the Giants, Lions, Falcons, Dolphins, Packers, Browns, Jaguars, Cowboys and Cardinals.
“A lot of scouts and a lot of teams that believe in me,” he said. “I came out here and gave it my all for them.”
He first worked in the weight room, followed by a broad jump, vertical jump and position drills. At a first glimpse in position drills, scouts were able to see Hernandez work with an NFL offensive line coach and see the speed he possesses.
“You can never learn enough on the line,” he said. “There’s so much in it that you learn every day. Even coach, he was saying that he learns every day.”
The NFL scouts also got a chance to see other Miners show off their talents on pro day, with hopes to possibly get picked up by a squad. The former players who joined Hernandez in pro day included linebacker Alvin Jones, quarterback Zack Greenlee, receiver Brandon Moss, receiver Tyler Batson, lineman Tanner Stallings, linebacker Lawrence Montegut, linebacker Dante Loviolette and defensive back Devin Cockrell.
“Lot of competition makes you work hard every day,” said Jones, who had his family, including his brother and Green Bay Packer running back Aaron, in attendance to see him. “To see your friends succeed every day is also great.”
Ultimately Hernandez’s presence in El Paso was the perfect opportunity for the players to give one last opportunity to showcase their skills to NFL scouts.
“Real cool, we get a lot of exposure because teams want to see him,” Jones said. “And then the rest of us show up.”
During the off-season, Jones also signed with his brother’s agent, Leigh Steinberg. He joined Aaron in post-season workouts and spoke with several NFL teams already.
“I talked to like 6-7 teams, so excited about that,” he said. “Some teams wanted me to try fullback. You see me doing some fullback stuff, so we’ll see. I’d rather be playing linebacker though.”
For Cockrell, however, he did not sign with an agent, nor talk to teams, but he is riding on simply hope to play at the next level.
“I’m just playing the waiting game right now,” Cockrell said. “If they give me the chance, I’m going all in.”
With all the free agency buzz, draft rumors circulating and daily media boards ranking the top draft candidates, Hernandez says he’s focused in on getting better and not paying attention to outside noise.
“I don’t keep up with it at all,” he said. “Only time I hear about it is when someone tags me on it, I take a quick look at it, and then forget about it.”
The NFL draft will be held from April 26 – April 28 in Dallas, Texas.