While golfers teed off in Savannah at the Club Car Championship Thursday morning, a different group of athletes were getting ready to hit the field in Statesboro.
Three Georgia Southern football alums (DL Raymond Johnson, LB Rashad Byrd and LS Ryan Langan) and one Savannah State football grad (OL Michael Johnson) took part in the Eagles’ annual pro day.
It’s a chance for these NFL hopefuls to get face time with professional scouts.
Even though there are only so many spots in the league, everyone at the tryouts was pulling for each other.
“We all had these dreams since we were young,” Raymond Johnson said. “If we’re going against each other we’re enemies, of course, there’s no love, full dominance. But when you’re out here and you’re working for the same thing, you can’t help but want to see somebody else succeed.”
Johnson said that he figured to be a mid-round pick headed into Pro Day and hoped that the day would solidify his draft stock.
He ran a 4.74 40-yard dash and a 7.24 in the three-cone drill.
Long snapper Ryan Langan says he thinks he has a good chance at competing for a spot in the NFL because of the number of open long snapper jobs.
He also offered his evaluation of what skills scouts wanted to see.
“They want to see a ball get back really quick and right in the zone,” said Langan. “When it comes to the NFL, it comes down to milliseconds, you want to be able to get that ball off and be perfect. Also on punts, with blocking, they want to see you have good footwork.”
All four prospects could have chosen to remain in school another year, but passed up on a final season of eligibility to give their NFL dreams a chance.
For Raymond Johnson, the choice was a difficult one.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do right up until I did it,” Johnson said. “I think the biggest thing is just leaving a great program and a great coaching staff and great teammates, leaving all that behind. Great fans, a great atmosphere, it’s hard to leave all that behind. Ultimately, education is always going to be here, but the physical aspect is not.”
The NFL Draft will begin on Thursday, April 29 and conclude on Saturday, May 1.