Kentucky Wildcats: Pro Day 2015


While Calipari and the basketball Cats’ are down in Nashville preparing to bring home their 29th SEC championship, 14 NFL prospects from the Kentucky Wildcats’ football team were back in Lexington showing NFL teams why they should have their names called come late April. It was a bigger turnout compared to earlier seasons. 36 scouts from 26 different teams were in attendance, along with 3 head coaches in Mike Tomlin, Marvin Lewis, and Mike Zimmer. Thursday morning was a reminder that though the past season ended with a horrible 6-game skid, the program is on the rise.

The vibe of Thursday’s pro day is one unmatched in earlier years. The media, scouts, family, and teammates all made it out, and in large numbers. The field was full of teammates of the prospects working out, and most of them were underclassmen there to support the ones who once led them. Also, Avery Williamson, former Cat and current NFL Linebacker, was also in attendance and roaming the sidelines as a reporter Thursday morning.

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One of the more unexpected storylines of the football year happened when Braylon Heard decided to forego his senior season at Kentucky and declare for the NFL draft. To most, and even Coach Stoops, this came as a shock.

Stoops spoke on Heard’s decision to declare. “I think Braylon is going to have a bright future, I really do. As I’ve talked about before, I hate to see Braylon go but I certainly understood that. It was really personal reasons for him, he’s been through a lot… I’ve known Braylon and his family for a long time and I just wish him nothing but the best.”

The feature of Thursday morning, Bud Dupree, amazed scouts at the combine and it undoubtedly drew significant attention. Its safe to say that he was the magnet that drew over well-over half of the 36 scouts to Lexington. Bud, who was previously projected as a mid-late first round pick, now has his name in top-10 talks. He participated in all agility drills (decided to hold his combine time on his 40-yard dash). Pro day for Bud was essentially just a reiteration of how explosive and dominant he can be. Tons of teams would love to snag Dupree come draft time, but the Bengals, Bears, and the 49ers are among the top teams in terms of interest.

Big Z had himself a pretty good pro day, cutting his 40-yard dash time from a 4.85 to a 4.72, over a tenth of a second from what it was at the combine. Since the season has ended, he has put forth effort to improve his draft stock, and he hasn’t done so in vain. Za’Darius is now expected to be taken in one of the mid-rounds and some even say he could be taken as high as third. Can’t say it isn’t something he deserves, though, right? He is expected to have workouts with the Baltimore Ravens, Atlanta Falcons, and the Chicago Bears in the next month.

Want to see what the players and coaches think of the big day? Below are Q&A’s from Bud Dupree, Za’Darius Smith, and Coach Stoops:

Mark Stoops

Bud Dupree

Za’Darius Smith

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