Pat Fitzgerald had a brief stint in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys so the Northwestern coach knows what the league's initial stand for--``Not for long.''
But he and the nine Wildcats who worked out Thursday on campus during the school's pro day are holding out hope, and there was reason to be hopeful as representatives from 17 schools showed up, including Jeff Shiver, the Bears' Midwest scout and Cleveland director of player personnel Bill Rees. Previously, he served as the Bears' college scouting director.
Running back Tyrell Sutton (above being measured for his height), the only Wildcat invited to the scouting combine last month, helped himself in the 40-yard dash. Clocked at 4.68 seconds in Indianapolis, one scout had him at 4.57 and 4.67 on a slow artificial indoor surface. With his left wrist in a brace from the injury that kept him out of the final four regular-season games last year, he put up 12 reps on the bench at 225 pounds, clearly affected by the injury.
"I think it was resiliency, whatever it takes I am willing to do it,'' he said of the effort. ``All of us, we are not highly touted on the draft board, so we've got to go out here and prove to everyone we're worth taking a chance on.''
Sutton, who checked in at 5-8, 213 pounds, before the workout began, figures to be a late-round selection or priority free agent at this point. He just wants a shot to prove what he can do.
``The way I feel about it is as long as I can get into a minicamp and show what I can do in between the lines, I think everything will take care of itself,'' he said. ``Darren Sproles, [Garrett] Wolfe, I like all those guys. We prove that we may be small in stature but we play big. I just have to find one team that likes me.''
Another player who helped himself was wide receiver Eric Peterman. He just might have run himself into the seventh round of the draft with a 40-time of 4.45 and 4.47 seconds and a strong three-cone drill of 6.58 seconds. He could have at least created a few pre-draft visits for himself and forced teams to consider if he can be an asset on special teams. Defensive tackle John Gill also has a chance of being drafted and helped himself with a short shuttle of 4.44 seconds and a three cone of 7.10 seconds, both figures better than any tackles at the combine.
The event started in the weight room with measurements--including arm length and hand size--and included a vertical jump and bench press. Then, the players moved to the field house where they did a broad jump, 40, three-cone drill, shuttle run and ended with positional drills. It was there that quarterback C.J. Bacher displayed a strong arm but looks to be a free-agent possibility.
``Hopefully, for C.J. today he put on a good performance, get into a camp and hang around a team like Brett Basanez has, now he's with the Bears,'' Fitzgerald said. ``You get an opportunity and you never know where it is going to go.''
The main message Fitzgerald gave his players was to enjoy the opportunity.
``You dream of getting an opportunity maybe to play professional football, you've got no regrets from the way you have played the game on the field,'' he said. ``Now, just go out and have some fun.''
The teams identified at the event were: the Bears, Atlanta, Dallas, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, New England, New Orleans, N.Y. Giants, N.Y. Jets, Oakland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Tennessee and Washington.