Osemele, Johnson, others test at ISU Pro Day

Former ISU offensive tackle Kelechi Osemele talks with the press at Cyclone Football Pro Day on Tuesday, March 20, at the Bergstrom Indoor Practice Facility.

Dan Tracy

With their ISU careers now over, 11 former ISU players ran through a barrage of tests Tuesday morning in hopes of impressing NFL personnel that are traveling to colleges across the country for pro days in preparation for April’s NFL draft.

“It’s really great, I wouldn’t want to be in any other position,” said ISU offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele, who has been training for more than three months in anticipation of the draft. “I mean, this is what I’ve been wanting to do my whole life.”

Twenty-nine of the 32 NFL teams were represented at the Bergstrom Indoor Facility on Tuesday as the 11 former Cyclones — along with former William Penn defensive tackle Damon Harrison and University of Dubuque wide receiver Michael Zwiefel — lifted, sprinted, jumped and were measured as scouts and general managers took notes and led the players through the tests and drills.

Highlighting the group of draft prospects were Osemele and former ISU defensive back Leonard Johnson, who are both projected as middle round selections in April’s draft and both went through a similar day of testing at the NFL scouting combine in February in Indianapolis.

Osemele, who said Tuesday he “killed” the combine, decided he would not run the 40-yard dash or go through any agility tests Tuesday as he and his agent, Andrew Kessler, didn’t want to risk injury and would only participate in position drills. However, after fellow offensive lineman Hayworth Hicks bench pressed 225 pounds 35 times — three more repetitions than Osemele recorded at the combine — Osemele decided he would try and take back his higher rep total.

“Once I saw the guys doing it, I wanted to join in a little bit, especially when Hayworth beat my last number. That’s just a little rivalry we’ve always had,” said Osemele, who rattled off 36 repetitions on the bench press. “I felt really good about my numbers and really good about my workouts. I thought I did really well.”

The Houston, Texas, native weighed in at 327 pounds Tuesday, which is down from his playing weight of 335 pounds last season.

“The most important thing is just to be in the best shape possible and be comfortable at the weight that you’re at and be able to move and be athletic,” Osemele said.

While Osemele chose not to run Tuesday, Johnson’s most important test was his 40-yard dash. The two-time All-Big 12 defensive back ran his 40 in 4.71 seconds at the combine, the 32nd-slowest time out of 34 cornerbacks who ran at the combine.

“I was excited that I was able to come out and redeem myself,” Johnson said. “The time was what it was, but I had another bite out of the apple this morning.”

With stopwatch-wielding scouts flanking him on both sides, Johnson clocked in at a time of 4.53 seconds, which would have tied him for 12th-fastest among cornerbacks at the combine.

Johnson pointed to his health as one of the main reasons for his quicker time as he was forced to miss workouts for the six days prior to the combine due to illness. Although his slow time at the combine may still stick out to some NFL teams, Johnson hopes his play on film carries his resume more than his 40-yard dash time.

“You can turn on the film and I’m running with guys that run low 4.3s and 4.4s,” Johnson said. “Despite what I ran at the combine, you put me on the field and I’m going to compete.”

Although the other nine former ISU players are not projected to be drafted in April, wide receiver Darius Reynolds ran 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash, defensive end Jake Lattimer measured a 37-inch vertical jump and defensive end Patrick Neal recorded 33 bench press repetitions.

The NFL draft begins April 26 with the first round selections and continues April 27 (rounds two and three) and 28 (rounds four through seven).