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March 18, 2014

SHSU FOOTBALL — Bearkats hope to impress NFL scouts

Scouts representing several teams in attendance to watch ex-Bearkats

HUNTSVILLE — The scouting pro day was like a reunion of sorts for a handful of the best football players to ever wear a Sam Houston State uniform.

Eight former Bearkats gathered at Bowers Stadium on Tuesday in an effort to make an impression on NFL scouts that could lead to professional football careers this fall.

They were all there pulling for each other, even some of the ones who never played together. Former running back Timothy Flanders headlined the group, along with safety Darnell Taylor; his twin brother Darius, wide receivers and return specialists Torrance Williams and Richard Sincere, cornerback Bookie Sneed, defensive back Johntel Franklin, defensive ends Jarrett Brown and Andrew Weaver and linebacker Tanner Brock.

At least 17 scouts were in attendance to watch the former Bearkats, including representatives from the Houston Texans, New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers, San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills.

Flanders told local media members that he has a private visit scheduled with his childhood favorite New Orleans Saints on April 9.

He closely followed the trade that sent running back Darren Sproles from the Saints to the Eagles for a fifth-round draft pick.

Flanders remembers thinking, “That (fifth-round pick) could be me.”

“When I got that call from my agent, I was very excited,” Flanders said. “I just want to see what they say. Hopefully it works out, but I just need one general manager to like me and take a chance on me. All I need is one.”

Flanders also spoke with scouts from the Texans and 49ers following Tuesday’s workout, noting that it was mostly words of encouragement and inquiries on how his body feels after 999 carries and 5,664 yards in four seasons as a Bearkat.

The rest of the players are long shots as draft prospects, but all of them were hoping to show something that would motivate a team to consider signing them as an undrafted free agent.

Brock said if he were to get drafted at all, it won’t likely be before the seventh round.

“I wouldn’t mind going the free agent route one bit,” Brock said. “It’s just going to be great to get paid to play a game.”

Williams and Darnell Taylor thought along the same lines.

For Taylor, this was his valiant attempt at a comeback after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the 2012 FCS Championship game. Taylor’s attitude has been working as hard as he could to get close to his All-American form of two years ago, and see where the chips fall.

“I’m a tackler and that’s one thing a lot of teams are missing in the NFL,” Taylor said. “Just a guy who can step up and make tackles. They know I can do that and I’m just out here to give it everything I’ve got.”

Williams had a breakout season as a return specialist for the Kats in 2013. He topped the Southland Conference in total punt return yards with 464 averaging 16 yards per return, and was fourth in receiving yards with 964.

“I had to combine film and stats with a good pro day and I feel like I did that,” Williams said. “This was definitely like a reunion for all of us regrouping here for a greater purpose, a chance to play professional football. We want to do our best at everything we do. This takes so much energy out of you, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, spending day-in and day-out preparing. There’s a lot that comes with being a professional athlete, the money and lifestyle and everything like that.

“But I just want to play the game that I love. That’s what it’s all about.”

Now the former Bearkats can only play the waiting game with the NFL Draft scheduled May 8-10.

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All proceeds from the Team Big George Wiffleball Tournament will go to George Ancira, above, to support him in his battle with cancer.

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