TEMPE, Ariz. – Most of the seniors that participated in Arizona State’s Pro Day on Thursday aren’t players who will hear their names called on April 27 in Philadelphia.
There’s a chance they won’t hear it called on day two or three either.
With the exception of 2016 Lou Groza award winner Zane Gonzalez, it’s going to be an uphill battle for any of ASU’s graduating seniors to make an NFL roster. Still, a plethora of NFL scouts watched as some familiar faces worked out in the Carson Center before partaking in combine drills inside the Verde Dickey Dome to end the day.
If nothing else, this was an opportunity for this group to work out alongside each other one last time before going and pursuing their own individual endeavors, whether they pertain to football or not.
“It’s really a blessing to be out here with the guys and to have one more day,” former Sun Devil Laiu Moeakiola said. “I mean, I’m thankful for the opportunity, but I mean the next five years is up in the air and I’m just trying to lean on that, use whatever I can to the best of my ability.”
Moeakiola has approached the entire draft process with a level head – the same way he approached his entire collegiate career.
“It’s been great,” Moeakiola said. “I’m trying to make it not bigger than what it is, keep everything in perspective and just take it one day at a time.”
In his redshirt senior season, Moeakiola was moved all over the defense. He started the year at bandit safety before he was moved to spur linebacker, where he played for most of his career. He posted 55 tackles – three for loss – and an interception to cap his five-year tenure as a Sun Devil.
He believes his ability to adapt is something he could bring to an NFL roster.
“I feel like I could bring a lot,” Moeakiola said. “From being me as a person and the leadership skills that I have, but most important, versatility I bring, being smart, a technician and using my knowledge of the game to expand my role on the team.”
For De’Chevon Hayes, the opportunity to compete with this group of guys yet again is one that he doesn’t take for granted.
“Just for us to come together one more time,” Hayes said. “Just compete, you know, at the same time we’re still Sun Devil brothers, we compete and have fun and just do what you love. This is a moment that everyone has been waiting for, for a long time.”
Hayes started the process training back home in Virginia at Lee Sports – he also trained some at R1 Sports in Maryland before returning back to Tempe ahead of the team’s pro day.
If nothing else, Hayes is grateful for the opportunity.
“You gotta cherish these days,” Hayes said. “You’ve gotta cherish it and you’ve gotta stay humble. You can’t forget where you come from. So theses days right here, because tomorrow is never promised, so to make it a pro day is a blessing.”
If anyone who participated in the day’s events has a leg up on sticking around in the NFL, it’s receiver Tim White, who made a name for himself over the course of the last two seasons thanks to his contributions on both offense and special teams.
White only played in Tempe for those two seasons, but his impact wasn’t subtle. He posted 1,346 receiving yards on 113 receptions and 10 touchdowns in his career and his 1,672 all-purpose yards in 2016 ranked third in the conference (White was the only player in the top 12 to have a negative statistical value with minus-4 rushing yards).
The College of the Canyons transfer never put much stock in numbers – he believes his play on the field speaks louder than any of the times or measurements recorded during the pro day.
Even then, his unofficial 4.49 in the 40-yard dash was a number that might stand out.
“My testing numbers in practice may be like, you know, kind of average,” White said. “Then I’ll come out and I’ll perform well, that’s what I’m used to. I just knew I could go out there and jump, you know and I could go out there and run fast, just show my ability.
“The numbers don’t really mean anything, all that matters to me is going and lining up against the guy in front of me and battling that way.”
His performance in the pro day, a showing that featured combine drills as well as live throwing and kick-returning sessions, were enough to peak the interest of NFL scouts, according to White.
He believes some private workouts with teams will be next on the pre-draft agenda.
“I talked to a few scouts out here and they seemed pretty interested and they liked what they seen today,” White said. “Just got to go, show up to the private workouts and the meetings and just be myself.”
Even if the dream doesn’t come to fruition for White – for whatever reason – he will always be able to say he went out and stole the heart of one attendee during his pro day workout.
Just before White was set to run his 40-yard dash, his three-year old daughter Brooklyn belted out a proud declaration for everyone else watching on.
“That’s my daddy,” she exclaimed.
For White, that’s all he needed to keep the day’s events in perspective.
“I talked to her before I ran the 40 and she just calmed me down,” White said. “I heard her name when I was in my second 40 and it was just like ‘It’s all right, you know, just go out there, run and be relaxed.”
“Regardless of what the time shows, you know who you are.”