For more than 15 former University of Hawaii players, football hopes are on pause for an indefinite period because of concerns over COVID-19.
The NFL Management Council circulated a memo saying it is prohibiting all in-person, pre-draft visits with draft-eligible prospects.
That meant the postponement or cancellation of pro days, in which NFL scouts and personnel directors watch players go through a series of disciplines (40-yard dash, agility drills, 225-pound bench presses, vertical jumps) and field workouts.
UH and UCLA were supposed to conduct a joint pro day on the Bruins’ campus on March 24. But UCLA officials notified the participants and media the combine-like event was being postponed. It is not known when or if it will be rescheduled.
Quarterback Cole McDonald, who decided to forego his senior season at UH to apply for the 2020 NFL Draft, was able to display his skills at last month’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. But because of the recent restrictions, he has not been able to secure a private workout with NFL teams. McDonald is still projected to be selected on the third day of the three-day draft in April.
The past six weeks, former UH running back Dayton Furuta has been training in Arizona ahead of pro day. After learning of the postponement, Furuta recalled, “I had same reaction as everyone else training. I was bummed out at first. But at the end of the day, it’s the people we have to think about. We have to hope this pandemic doesn’t get too far out of hand. Hopefully, we can get on it soon, and still have a chance (for pro scouts).”
At 5 feet 11 and 250 pounds, Furuta had drawn interest as a fullback before the start of the 2019 season. But he suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him for nine games. “After my injury and being out so long, just the process it took to come back, I wasn’t sure if I would have the opportunity without playing the majority of my senior year.”
Furuta accepted an invitation to the Hula Bowl, where he showed his blocking ability. He said he received encouragement from scouts attending the all-star game.
Furuta said the plan is to video workouts and then send them to NFL scouts. “Hopefully, we can open some eyes and get some interest from at least one person,” Furuta said.
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