LARAMIE — The national visibility of Wyoming football over the past year has risen substantially because of quarterback Josh Allen’s emergence as a potential top NFL Draft pick.
Laramie is about to see that firsthand.
Scouts from all 32 NFL teams, 75 credentialed media members and live broadcast crews from ESPN and NFL Network will be in town Friday for Wyoming’s Pro Day at the High Altitude Performance Center and UW football’s Indoor Practice Facility.
The event, which starts at 10 a.m., is closed to the general public, but portions will be broadcast live on ESPN and NFL Network beginning at noon Mountain Time. Allen is expected to begin his throwing session around 12:10 p.m.
“Well, I think the amount of exposure for Cowboy football and for Wyoming athletics, I think it’s exponential,” head coach Craig Bohl said. “... To take advantage of that, Josh is a great spokesman for our program. I know it’s changed how we’re viewed nationally in a lot of places.
In addition to Allen, who declared for the draft after his redshirt junior season, eight Cowboy seniors from the 2017 team will be participating in the workouts in drills: offensive lineman Ryan Cummings, long snapper Kolton Donovan, cornerback Rico Gafford, safety Tim Kamana, defensive lineman Nela Lolohea, linebacker/nickel back Jalen Ortiz, cornerback Robert Priester and fullback Drew Van Maanen.
“If you had to pick a year to come out of the University of Wyoming and participate in Pro Day, it would be this year,” Kamana said. “So, I definitely consider myself lucky to be able to be coming out in the same class as Josh and hopefully just be able to capitalize off of all the hard work I’ve been putting in these last couple of months and utilize the platform that he’s created for the rest of us by bringing in all these scouts that aren’t typically at a University of Wyoming Pro Day.”
Said Priester: “We’re most definitely going to ride his wave and catch some eyes and go from there.”
Among the national media members in attendance will be ESPN’s Todd McShay and Mark Schwartz, who will be reporting live, as will NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. Fox’s Troy Aikman will also be in attendance.
Allen has already participated in the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, and the NFL Combine in Indianapolis since the conclusion of Wyoming’s season, and Gafford competed at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Pasadena, California. But for the majority of the group, this will be their biggest chance to show NFL scouts their capabilities.
“I feel like it’s going to be a major plus for Josh and for the guys who haven’t been seen a lot,” Gafford said. “Like me and Rob and all the other guys, I know having all those scouts there, and there will probably be a lot of G.M.s and stuff like that, that just opens up the door for us as well.
“I love Josh to death, and I thank him for what he’s done for Wyoming. But this is the time for me and all the guys to really showcase what we have, what we bring to the table in front of all these guys.”
While the amount of exposure this class of Cowboys gets will certainly surpass those at any other Pro Day in Wyoming history, might the added scrutiny bring some pressure?
“You know, I’m not really worried,” Cummings said. “I’ve kind of been around some big-time people all my life, like Christian (McCaffrey). I played with him for eight years before I got to college. And then we had, what, Brian Hill. We had Chase (Roullier). We had (Jacob) Hollister for the Patriots this year. Being around Larry Nance, all those guys. It’s like, they’re just people.
“All these NFL G.M.s, all these NFL scouts, they’ve got big jobs, and they’re really well-known people — I mean, John Elway being on our sideline for the bowl game — if he comes up to me, it’s an honor, but they’re just people. This definitely will be the biggest job interview of my life. I’ll say that.”
Cummings and Gafford have both said they believe they could be selected in the later rounds of the NFL Draft, while Donovan said he has heard rumblings he could be among the top long snappers in the class.
The players have been training in a variety of locations across the country, from California to Laramie to New Jersey.
“A lot of guys that I’ve played years and years and years with and known really well, it’s just going to be really exciting to see how everyone’s progressed and to see how all the work that we’ve been putting in over these last two or three months really paid off,” Kamana said. “I’m excited, and it’s going to be great to have that competition, because we’re all in there competing to get the attention of these scouts. But at the same time, we’re all there supporting each other, because we’re all brothers.
“We all hope that we all can make it, but we understand that that’s not always the case. So, I wish every single one of them the best, and it’s going to be fun going out there and competing.”
“I’m just excited to get back with the guys,” Donovan said. “... We’re all excited to get back together, have one more rodeo and have some fun.”