Many former Arizona State football players have had the opportunity to work out in front of NFL scouts, but one significant contributor was left off the list.
Former ASU defensive end Tyler Johnson was among 12 NFL hopefuls from ASU participating in Monday’s pro day in Tempe.
Johnson was not among the eight former Sun Devils invited to the NFL combine on March 1-7. Johnson and four other former ASU players who didn’t get an invite to the NFL combine were able to work out for scouts from 29 NFL teams.
Unlike his teammates, Johnson made the decision to not skip out of his final game with ASU in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Highland High School product moved from linebacker to tight end in his last two years at ASU. The move saw him manage 33 tackles, four sacks, three passes defended and two fumble recoveries in the final season.
After the performance he had last season that included him as the lone Sun Devil named to the Pac-12 first team, not seeing an invite for the NFL combine left him with a chip on his shoulder.
“It was another job interview, but even during the season, the coaching staff here, every practice and game day was a job interview because they determine who plays so that’s pretty much how I treated it today. I knew I had to do my best, ”Johnson said.
Johnson recorded at 34½ ”vertical jump, the second-highest for ASU participants behind defensive back Jack Jones’ 35” attempt.
The experience of working alongside his former teammates to impress pro scouts is still new for Johnson, but he’s using the opportunity as motivation.
“Definitely not to compare myself to others and to worry about myself. Don’t try to mimic others and get tunnel vision at the moment, ”Johnson said.
More than 25 players participated in the testing of lifting, jumping, running, and position drills with some players as full participants. The NFL brought in 12 players from its international player program as all have hopes for the NFL draft on April 28-30.
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Other former Sun Devils working out included Jones, Darien Butler, Justin Collins, DJ Davidson, Erik Dickerson, Kellen Diesch, Curtis Hodges, Chase Lucas, Logan Tyler, Dohnovan West, and Rachaad White.
As Davidson prepares for the draft, he’s taking the lessons he’s learned from former ASU draft picks in shifting into the next part of his career.
“They really helped me get my mindset right to see how they carried themselves in a professional manner underneath Coach Herm’s system when Coach (Todd) Graham left, I took away from that,” Davidson said.
Betting on yourself
ASU had one draft pick last season with wide receiver Frank Darby going to the Atlanta Falcons in the sixth round. His draft position di lui last year at 187th overall is something that weighs on Lucas’ mind. The two began a bet last year on who would get drafted higher.
“I’m expecting to either match that or get up on it. I called him and told him thank you for all the information he’s given me. He’s been pushing me the entire way. I love Frank, but he’s giving me that $ 5,000, ”Lucas said. “He got that rookie minimum, he better pay.”
While at pro day, Lucas caught up with Andrew Dollak, a former ASU recruiting assistant and current New York Jets scout. The five-year player at ASU asked Dollak how much he’d changed since they first met.
“He said, five years ago Chase? No. Now Chase, he gave me a thumbs-up. It’s been a journey, but I’m blessed beyond belief, ”Lucas said.
Lucas finished second all-time in career starts with 49 for ASU.
“I’ve always known that I’ve had something higher for me, something bigger and better for me. I just needed to get to it. There have been some times (that were hard) like switching from running back to cornerback. I didn’t think I could get there, ”Lucas said. “You just got to keep your head down and keep striving. Luckily for me, I had a great amount of coaches, Marvin Lewis, Herm Edwards, Chris Hawkins, all the guys who molded me into who I am today. ”
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or 602-647-4122. Follow her on Twitter @jennarortiz.
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