Notebook: Armstrong takes on 'athlete' role at Pro Day
One of the most statistically productive players in Nebraska football history, Tommy Armstrong as expected was the center of attention during the Huskers’ Pro Day on Tuesday afternoon.
Even though he made his name as NU’s starting quarterback for the previous four seasons, Armstrong did a little bit of everything in his biggest NFL audition yet, which featured 23 NFL scouts in attendance.
Along with doing some throwing as a quarterback, Armstrong also took significant reps as a receiver, a role he’s been training for the past two months with the help of Nebraska receivers coach Keith Williams.
“It was tough, but I think I prepared well throughout those two months,” Armstrong said. “Coach Dub helped me out a lot and got me ready for those routes, and I threw a lot as well… Overall I thought it was a pretty good day.”
Maybe most importantly for Armstrong was that he said he’s as close to 100-percent healthy as he's been in a long time, as his senior campaign was cut short due to a torn hamstring.
Once he was finally able to get back to working out, Armstrong reached out to Williams to help him train as a receiver and said he needed to lose about 15-20 pounds to better fit the position.
Williams told him he would lose that within the first month and a half training with him. As it turned out, Armstrong went from weighing around 230 pounds at the end of last season to around 215 for Pro Day.
That helped him run his 40-yard dash in the mid-4.5 range, a major improvement from the low-4.7s he was expecting.
Armstrong said the way his final season as a Husker ended definitely served as motivation during his training for Pro Day.
“Not being able to play in that last bowl game, it kind of got to me. But I knew what was ahead and what to prepare for and how challenging it was going to be.
“I think I did a great job preparing, getting up every morning and working out with the senior class and afterwards getting extra work in with Coach Dub. Just making sure that all that hard work was going to pay off on this day.”
Armstrong still isn’t sure where his position will actually be at the next level, as along with quarterback and receiver he’s also expecting to get some looks at running back and even defensive back.
“I guess you can tag me an an athlete going forward.”
- Robin Washut
Reilly caps Pro Day with a 4.4 time in the 40
As wide receiver Brandon Reilly reflects on his Pro Day, the biggest thing he wanted to prove was his speed.
After running in the 4.42 to 4.44 range in the 40-yard dash, to go along with a 32-inch vertical, 18 reps in the bench press and a 10-3 broad jump, Reilly proved he has the intangibles it takes to play at the next level.
“It’s big,” Reilly said of recording a 4.4 time. “I always joke people say I have ‘deceptive speed’ and stuff like that. Hopefully I proved I can throw that word out for a while.”
Reilly, along with fellow wide receiver Alonzo Moore also ran in the low 4.4’s. The two were invited back after Pro Day for a private workout with the Houston Texans on Thursday.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Reilly said. “Coming out of high school I thought I’d never get to this point. Then once I started training for the last two months, I never thought this day would get here. Hopefully I made the most of my opportunity and get some calls.”
- Sean Callahan
Cotton puts up all-around monster numbers
No player may have helped himself more on Tuesday than former Nebraska tight end Sam Cotton.
The Lincoln Southeast product ran in the 4.73-4.80 range in the 40-yard dash, jumped a 35 ½ inch vertical, had a 10-7 mark in the broad jump and did 15 reps in the bench press.
Cotton said he felt good about his all-around workout and hopes he did enough to get on the radar of some NFL teams.
“All month long training had been going really well and the jumps had been going well, so I was anticipating to have a good jump,” Cotton said. “Then that adrenaline boost on competition day helped out. I appreciate all the scouts coming out.
"It’s not easy to travel all across the country to get to every college. We definitely appreciate those guys.”
- Sean Callahan
Newby impresses with help from friend, mentor Abdullah
Terrell Newby may not have received an invitation to last month’s NFL Combine, but he’s still found a way to get on the radar of several teams leading up to the draft in April.
The former Husker running back had already been in contact with the Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, New Orleans saids and others heading into Tuesday’s Pro Day, and his performance at the event should only help garner even more attention.
Newby, who weighed in at 205 pounds, ran his 40-yard dash in the 4.5 range, registered a 35-inch vertical jump and a 4.1 time in the shuttle.
“They said I tested pretty well today, especially for my measurables,” Newby said. “It was good for them to see me move around.”
Newby said he’s told the NFL teams he’s been in contact with that he’s willing to take on whatever role necessary, and he thinks his experience under Nebraska’s coaching staff has definitely prepared him for making the jump to the pros.
Along with playing under Riley and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf’s pro-influenced scheme, Newby said he’s also been utilizing running backs coach Reggie Davis - who played and coached in the NFL - as a key resource.
He’s also been getting as much advice as possible from his friend, mentor, and former teammate, Ameer Abdullah, now with the Detroit Lions.
“He was here about a week and a half ago, and I talked to him about the whole process,” Newby said. “He was just like, ‘Just keep going through it. Once you get it done you’ll feel a lot better.’ He’s just one of the guys who’s probably going to stick with me throughout my whole life and mentor me.”
- Robin Washut
Despite injury setback, Maurice feeling good after Pro Day
Defensive tackle Kevin Maurice is another player who some thought could have earned an NFL Combine invitation following his senior season, but he arrived at Pro Day with his biggest chance yet to make his case for the next level.
Unfortunately, Maurice’s day ended much shorter than he would have liked.
Maurice tweaked his hamstring on his first 40-yard dash attempt of the day, and while he was able to run his second attempt, he was forced to call it quits for the rest of the testing due to the injury.
It wasn’t a total disappointment, though, as he was fairly happy with his 5.1 time in the 40 and even more so with his 1.74 10-yard split, “which is pretty good.”
Maurice also said he’s down to about 292 pounds, which is closer to his ideal playing weight than the 300-plus he was at last season.
He also recorded a 7-11 mark in the broad jump and 18 reps in the bench press.
“Just coming out here, there were no nerves or stuff like that,” Maurice said. “It was just another day. I felt like I was really prepared.”
- Robin Washut
***On April 6, Nebraska wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp and linebackers Josh Banderas and Michael Rose-Ivey are scheduled to have their own mini Pro Day at Nebraska.
***Former Notre Dame and Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel may also throw at the April 6 Pro Day, as he and Westerkamp share the same agent.
***Current Nebraska graduate manager and former Illinois quarterback Chase Haslett threw balls to NU’s wide receivers on Tuesday. Ryker Fyfe was scheduled to throw, but missed Pro Day because he was sick.
***Gerald Foltz, the father of late Husker punter Sam Foltz was in attendance at Tuesday’s Pro Day.
***Maurice said he’s been leaning heavily on his good friend and former Husker defensive tackle Maliek Collins on what to expect during the process of getting ready for the NFL.
“He was just telling me before today, just give it everything you’ve got right now,” Maurice said. “Just show everything and go out and perform.’ I’ve been talking to Maliek a lot. Me and Maliek are close. He’s just kind of been in my year as a mentor, big brother, stuff like that…
“It’s definitely helpful, having a guy who has already been through every step of it and obviously had success, so getting advice from him has been very useful.”
***One of the NFL scouts in attendance was Minnesota Vikings general manger Rick Spielman, who is also the adopted father of Nebraska redshirt freshman receiver J.D. Spielman.
***Moore said he tested out as well as he could have hoped, as he ran his 40 in the low-4.4s and also hit 9-11 in the broad jump. Moore said he knew it was going to be a good day from the moment he got out of bed.
“I woke up feeling good,” Moore said. “Like they say, how you wake up that morning - if you wake up feeling fast, feeling good, then you’re going to do good…
“You’ve just got to come in and relax. You’ve just got to get the jitterbugs out of you and come out and be ready. If you’re nervous and you tense up, then you’re not going to get the results you want. I was just relaxed out there and did what I normally do.”