NFL Combine looks promising for Ute athletes

Pro-Day Colby Patterson
Trevor Reilly, U alum, gives a post game interview at Rice Eccles Stadium after the defeating Colorado last season. Photo by Conor Barry.

Trevor Reilly, U alum, gives a post game interview at Rice Eccles Stadium after the defeating Colorado last season. Photo by Conor Barry.

Twenty NFL teams came to Salt Lake City to watch 16 Utah players, as well as a few other players from in-state colleges, showcase their skills in a final attempt to make it to the league. Some players hope to be placed on the radar while others are just trying to improve on their performances from the NFL Combine last month in Indianapolis. With the Utes’ program producing solid NFL defenders in years past, many scouts came to see some of the defensive stalwarts who have anchored Utah’s defense the past couple of years.

Most notable was Trevor Reilly, the senior linebacker/defensive end for Utah. Standing at 6 feet 5 inches and weighing 245 pounds, the All-Pac-12 fan favorite was hoping to impress scouts with his skill set, particularly his speed. In Wednesday’s workout, Reilly ran an official 4.66 40-yard dash, a personal record for the prospect.

“I couldn’t be happier with the time,” Reilly said.

There was a little concern about Reilly’s knee, which had a scope about two months prior to training. With his knee not at 100 percent, he was asked to sit out of position and shuttle drills, but Reilly still feels extremely confident after his work-out.

Another confident Ute was cornerback Keith McGill. Both McGill and Reilly were at the NFL Combine, but McGill’s stock received good reviews from scouts. McGill participated in all drills, just as he did at the combine. He had a 39-inch vertical leap, best among all Utes, and a 40-yard dash time of 4.51. Aside from the fact that he would be the biggest corner in the draft at 6 feet 3 inches, McGill wanted to distinguish himself from the other corners entering the draft.

“I just wanted to separate myself from any other corner that could have been at the same level,” McGill said. “Show coaches that I am willing to do the extra work needed to make it to the next level.”

Murphy making most of his chances

When tight end Jake Murphy decided to forego his senior year to enter the NFL draft, he received many questions as to why. Trying to prove his doubters wrong, Murphy was a top performer in the combine’s three cone and 20-yard shuttle drills. His main goal was to be able to impress the scouts with his catching ability, a good quality to have at the tight end position.

“I just wanted to show them how I can catch the ball,” Murphy said. “My hands and my body control and my routes, which I think is my biggest asset. Whether it is playing H-back or tight end, I just wanted to show them I can make plays from anywhere on the field.”

In his final season, Murphy was named to the John Mackey watch list for the best tight end in the country and was a Pac-12 Honorable Mention in 2012. He missed four games in 2013 after suffering a broken wrist against UCLA but still produced season totals of 25 catches for 417 yards and five touchdowns.

Not a novice in the professional spotlight, Murphy is the son of former MLB outfielder and two time National League MVP Dale Murphy, but his bloodline of athleticism had not quite prepped him for the training he went through to prepare for the combine. He said the overall experience has helped his chances whether he goes drafted or undrafted.

“It has been good, and it has been a grind,” Murphy said. “You kind of change everything from your sleeping habits to your eating habits. It’s just your whole mental state of mind is a different than when you are a college athlete.”

Williams impresses with speed and size

Karl Williams is used to going about his career as an underestimated player. The former Utah walk-on joined the team in 2010 after transferring from Southern Utah. Starting first for special teams, Williams was able to work his way up into the rotation of running backs.

Standing at 6 feet tall and weighing 245 pounds, Williams opened eyes with an impressive 4.50 40-yard dash. He also had a 35-inch vertical jump, 9 feet 11 inches broad jump and threw up 21 reps of the 225-pound bench press. During the passing drills, Williams was perfect, not dropping a single ball.

“I expected to do well but did really well today,” Williams said. “I have not ran [that fast] since I was in high school and weighing 215 pounds. I felt good with 245, and I caught everything. So everything went really well.”

Even with lack of sleep because of nerves, Williams said this was a moment he lived for. He does not expect to be drafted, but is happy for even a free agent deal.

“Some teams have talked to me, but no draft status,” Williams said. “I mean I came here as a walk-on, and I know I can do the same thing in the NFL.”

b.barlow@chronicle.utah.edu