Even after playing less than a full game in his lone season at Wyoming, Kolton Donovan had reason to be optimistic entering his preparations for the jump to the NFL. In speaking with agents, he had heard that a number of NFL teams viewed him as one of the top snappers in college football before he tore his ACL in Wyoming’s season opener at Iowa.
But Donovan isn’t taking anything for granted.
“The NFL plays a lot of different mind games,” he said. “One of my former teammates down at Southern Utah, Miles Killebrew, he ended up getting drafted by the Lions in the fourth round. And in his draft process, he had an interview with the Lions, and they straight-up told him, ‘We don’t like you. We don’t think you can play.’ And then out of the blue they end up drafting him.
“So, you never know what’s going on. You just keep working hard and hope someone’s willing to give you the chance.”
Donovan’s process of preparing for the next level has its share of quirks. He hasn’t played a full game since 2016, and he might not even by the only long snapper on his team to get picked up by an NFL team; former Wyoming fullback Drew Van Maanen, who took over the role after Donovan’s injury, is also trying to catch on at the professional level. Plus, Donovan will be participating in two Pro Days: Wyoming’s on March 23 and Southern Utah’s four days later.
“My agent (Carter Chow) reached out to Southern Utah and said, ‘Hey, Kolton would like to participate in your Pro Day,’” Donovan said. “‘He’s had a lot of experience with you guys and feels like you could get him a little bit of NFL recognition.’ So they jumped on it. It was a lot of fun. My agent’s been doing a good job.”
Despite his injury, Donovan has received a good amount of media attention this offseason, especially for a long snapper. He has done interviews with Football Talk Daily, SportsTalkLine, The FF Faceoff and more.
“I’m surprised by some of the attention I’ve been getting,” Donovan said, “partially because I didn’t get a whole ton of playing time. But I guess what’s going on is a lot of people are hearing about my size, they’re hearing what I’ve done in the past, and I guess they’re assuming I’ll keep the same things up, and I intend to do so. It’s a real blessing, a real honor to be getting so much attention. It’s a lot of fun.”
Donovan has been training in Salt Lake City with his former strength and conditioning coach with the Thunderbirds, Dan Bennion.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Donovan said. “I’ve kind of gone back to my roots a little bit with this draft process. It’s been really fun reconnecting with people and getting the help that I need. So, it’s a lot of fun.”
He will stick to snapping, bench-pressing and being measured at his Pro Days.
“I’m going to lay off the knee a little bit,” he said. “So I’m going to save that for mini camp and if teams want to bring me in for a personal workout. I’ll do something with them with that opportunity. But for the Pro Day, it’s just snapping.”
Donovan said he has been medically cleared to use the knee at full speed in practice, and he is now in the process of getting back to where he was before the injury. But his snapping has been good to go for the past few months, he said.
“I attended an NFL showcase down in Phoenix, Arizona, just kind of a regional combine for specialists,” he said. “And out of the 40 guys over there, I placed in the top five. So I’d say I’m doing all right.”
And if NFL teams don’t believe him, they’ll have multiple opportunities to see for themselves.
“I think it’ll help a little bit, just to kind of get my hands dirty in the first (Pro Day),” Donovan said. “Get familiar with it. And then with Southern Utah, kind of have an idea of what I’m going into. And kind of the same thing with Southern Utah, I’m excited to get back with some of my old teammates and my old coaches and go have some fun.”