SDSU’s Pro Day a success

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The players performing in the 40-yard dash on SDSU Pro Day, including Jordan Byrd on the far right. (Don De Mars/EVT)

On a perfect Tuesday morning with only a few patches of strato-form clouds scattered around campus, Cedarious Barfield, Jack Browning, Jalen Mayden, Samuela Tuihalamaka, and Noah Tumblin returned to The Mesa to compete in SDSU’s Pro Day.

While the women’s lacrosse team practiced on the synthetic fields outside, the Fowler Athletic Center hosted the first portion of the event.

Check-in was at 10 am with a continental breakfast provided for those attending. Inside, the five Aztecs first showed their mental acumen on the famous Wonderlic Test. Next, they were weighed, measured, and warmed up for the physical components of the day.

Noah Tumblin hauls in a pass during drills. (Don De Mars/EVT)

“Everything was good,” Tuihalamaka said after practice. “Everything was smooth and solid. I got some of the numbers I wanted. It felt good just to get out there again and get moving. It felt good to be out here.

Before coming to the practice fields where they practiced during their SDSU careers, the players did broad jumps, vertical jumps, and bench presses. Their aim was to prove their athleticism to the 23 NFL scouts in attendance.

“I felt pretty good with the results,” Barfield said. “My broad jump could be a little bit better. I was slipping a lot. I took like five reps. The 40 was alright, not as fast as I wanted, but I heard some pretty good times, so we’ll see what they round it up to. The position drills were pretty good. I’m excited to see what happens moving forward.”

Like a well-choreographed ensemble, the lacrosse team exited, and the setup for the outdoor portion began. SDSU personnel, under the leadership of Director of Football Operations Ruben Pena, sectioned off the field with the 40-yard dash on the western part of the field and the three-cone drill near the SDSU logo at midfield. A representative from the Denver Broncos ran the drills.

As it is every year, Pro Day served as a reunion. Supporting the five performers on the field was a legion of current and former Aztecs. Sean Lewis and much of his coaching staff attended. CB coach Demetrius Sumler was the most engaged among the coaches.

Cedarious Barfield on SDSU Pro Day. (Don De Mars/EVT)

Notable among the current players were QBs Kyle Crum and Javance Tupou’ata-Johnson. They came to support Mayden. DBs Eric Butler and JD Coffey watched as Barfield and Tumblin competed in the drills. K Gabriel Plascenia supported Browning. DL Brady Nassar and Darrion Dalton cheered on Tuihalamaka.

“That was real good,” Mayden replied when asked about the gathered crowd. “I had some friends that called out of work to come see it. It means a lot to me and then, my mom coming all the way from Texas was real good.”

Hugs and warm handshakes abounded at the family affair. A native San Diegan, Tumblin had the biggest gathering of supporters. They included his parents and his first-ever football coach. The mob of Tumblin fanatics celebrated at Dave and Busters afterward.

“They’ve been supporting me since I started so it means a lot to see them continue to support me through my whole journey,” Tumblin explained.

Jalen Mayden skies for a pass. (Don De Mars/EVT)

Official times were closely guarded, but all the participants were happy with their results. Having prepared for this day for months, they did everything possible to trim hundreds of sections off their performances. A few shed their athletic shorts and ran in what amounted to their underwear to negate any drag. Barfield borrowed Browning’s shoes to compete in the jumps because they were lighter.

Browning arrived on the field first and was the last to leave. Numerous scouts took the chance to meet with the specialist. The brisk wind impacted Browning’s performance. He excelled with the wind but had trouble kicking into it on a few attempts. He competed in all three kicking areas but said afterward that he spends most of his time working on punting.

“A lot of (the scouts) thought I did well today,” Browning said. “A decent amount saw me in Indianapolis (at the NFL Scouting Combine) and they thought I did real well there as well. … A lot of them told me just to be ready for any opportunity.”

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With so much secrecy, it is hard to know who helped themselves.

Tumblin had fluid hips and was excited about his 40 times. His terrific length was also evident. Mayden is an athletic specimen. He did not throw on Tuesday but looked fast and nimble as a defensive back. Tall, lengthy players like Mayden are typically in high demand. Barfield’s versatility stood out. His 40 times will likely determine his NFL opportunities. Tuihalamaka benched 24 reps and looked fast for someone his size.

Jack Browning punting on SDSU Pro Day. (Don De Mars/EVT)

Now that Pro Day is behind them, the athletes can put their track training to rest and resume their work as football players.

NFL teams can invite 30 players in for visits. The Aztecs gathered on Tuesday are hoping for one of those coveted opportunities. Next comes the NFL Draft (April 25-27), rookie mini-camps, and the start of their professional careers.


Former RB Jordan Byrd participated in the Pro Day. Among the outside events, he only participated in the 40.

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