Five local college football players will get their shot at the NFL on Saturday, all thanks to a pro day hosted by Gates-Chili graduate and former NFL center Bruce Johnson.
The pro day came to be after a phone call with JoJo Gause about both of his pro days being canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. Johnson, a performance specialist at Pursuit Performance, had all of the equipment to make the event happen.
“It was as simple as reaching out to Greg at Irondequoit Sports Center,” said Johnson. “He said he’d donate the field to us, and we put the whole thing together.”
At a normal pro day, each individual college has their senior class perform drills and skills for scouts in the building. Due to social distancing mandates and health concerns, the whole pro day will be live streamed on Facebook courtesy of Iron Visuals, a production company owned by Bishop Kearney graduate co-event organizer, Quentin Gause.
“I think it’s going to be a major benefit for them because the scouts are going to see it, and now maybe the GMs and coaches are going to see it at the same time,” said Johnson.
Throughout the planning process for Saturday’s event, Johnson drew upon his own pro day experience at the University of Maine, which he felt was key to beginning his NFL career back in 2015. Johnson, named the best center in college football, was snubbed from the NFL Combine.
“I think it was very beneficial for me as a small school guy to get some eyes on me from NFL scouts,” said Johnson. “I had a great day, finished top 5 in every category, and I think that was a true blessing for me.”
Johnson went on to play for both the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Diego Chargers. When asked what advice he could offer the competitors, he said,
“At this point they’re no longer college students, they’re NFL guys, so they need to go out there and handle their business as if they’ve already played for an NFL team.”
All five participants play different positions, so they will also get very different looks from the scouts watching.
“I think it’s cool you get to go through the process with your brothers, the same guys you train with, same guys you played against in high school,” said Johnson. “For them to come together and do this with someone they’ve known their whole lives is a blessing.”