Donald Jones, the former Youngstown State Penguin, came home for a visit and he didn’t come alone. Jones ran routes on the Stambaugh Stadium turf early Monday morning. Scouts from Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Indianapolis were there early to evaluate select Seniors in various categories.
To enter Stambaugh Stadium at 7 am brought back memories of the dreaded eight o’clock classes. Looking around, the weight room was full of life as several people were doing workouts. Unsure of where the scouts, players to be tested, or Donald Jones were, Jon Moffett, of the Vindicator, and I walked into the gym to strategize where to be. Walking toward us was Donald Jones. Jones had a big smile on his wide awake face and stopped to chat. “It feels great to be home”, exclaimed Jones.
When asked what to expect today, Jones knew exactly what he would be doing. “They [NFL scouts] are pretty happy with my numbers from the combine. All they want me to do today is run routes.” Jones did just that putting on a good show as classmate Aaron Pitts threw balls to Jones.
Jones enhanced his draft status with a good showing at the NFL Combine a couple of weeks ago. He tied for first benching 225 pounds a set amount of times and he also ran a 4.47 40-yard dash. He is projected to go in the fifth round, where he would be a steal. Jones has the size, speed, and hands to carry a team and as an added bonus the NFL needs a few guys like DJ with their heads screwed on straight.
Phil Kreidler, a scout from the Pittsburgh Steelers organization, remembered me from the Pitt and South Dakota State games, where we spoke about Jones. His task on this day was to put other Penguins through some tests in hopes of scooping up a good free agent or two. “We have the guys run two forties, vertical jump, broad jump, and we look for explosiveness. We also see how many times each person can bench 225. We then move to some agility drills to evaluate their overall athletic ability and a few change of direction drill as well.”
If someone performs well, Kreidler reports back to the Steelers. “We grade every Senior and look to see if maybe someone can be helpful to us as a free agent. Every guy gets a specific grade based on their performance here today. We then get together and go over every single player we give a draft grade to.”
Many of last years Seniors were present for the testing. Mychal Savage (pictured), Lenny Wicks, Dana Brown, Jabari Scott, and Brandon Summers, were all there to get timed, tested, and put there numbers on the board in hopes of making it to the National Football League. Good luck to all who participated!