On Friday morning, 76 members from all 32 NFL teams gathered inside the indoor field of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center for Ohio State’s annual Pro Day, a showcase for its members who hope to woo over potential suitors before the league’s draft in April.
Fourteen outgoing or former Buckeyes — including Jeff Heuerman, Devin Smith, Doran Grant, Curtis Grant, Evan Spencer, Chris Fields, Darryl Baldwin, Steve Miller and Marcus Hall — participated in the event that lasted about three hours.
“It’s a whole lot of work on this field right here from freshman year all the way to now,” said Doran Grant, the senior cornerback, as he looked around the facility. “It seemed to right to end it right here.”
In particular, Grant has seemed to capture the attention of NFL executives with his speed (he said scouts clocked him running a 4.38-second 40-yard dash) and his versatility in the defensive secondary.
Grant said he’s been talking to the San Francisco 49ers, the Indianapolis Colts, the Oakland Raiders, the Dallas Cowboys, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“It’s been just like everybody told me, they said it’s a long process … that’s what makes it hard; how long from January to the draft. That’s the hardest part is the wait,” he said. “Other than that, it’s just the grind. You gotta embrace it just like here and do well.”
For the last six weeks, Grant has been on a journey that has taken him from Columbus to the National Championship Game in Dallas to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Al., the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and back to the capital city.
“It’s been a great ride obviously” said Grant, who turned around to look at the new 2014 National Champions banner that hangs on the south wall inside the team’s practice facility. “I’m glad I close it out here.”
After capturing the nation's attention with his big-play theatrics during Ohio State's postseason run, Smith said the fact the Buckeyes are undefeated in games where he caught a touchdown pass has become a conversation starter with NFL teams.
"I think most of the teams already knew that," he said. "They were the ones telling me that."
It's this uncanny ability to locate the long ball and has made Smith an intriguing prospect for league members. But questions linger over whether he possesses the skill set to be a complete wide receiver that can do more than run 50 yards toward the end zone each play.
Because of this, Smith, who opted not to run the 40-yard dash, said his priority on Friday was to run routes. "I thought coming out here and running the routes was more important." He added: "There was a few teams that wanted to see it and there’s a lot of other teams that know I can run all the other routes.
After the event, Smith met with a member from the Cleveland Browns.
For most of his career, Baldwin was another name on the roster. But the 6-foot-6, 305-pound tackle made a name himself as a starter and a key cog on an offensive line that, by the end of the season, was regarded as one of the nation's best units.
Asked if he thought vying to be on an NFL roster was possible before last year, he said, "probably not, just because I hadn’t started at all and just to get that under my belt, get a whole year in. Winning a national championship definitely helped it out."
Baldwin said he's working out with the Carolina Panthers at the end of March."(Teams say) I need to keep on working and keep on improving and if I keep doing that, I’ll get a chance."
With a smile, he added: "My dream’s about to come true."
"Whether it’s going late — late-round draft — or a free agent, it doesn’t really matter to me, just getting the chance is all I’m really looking for."