April has arrived, which means prospective NFL players aren’t fooling around. They are preparing for the NFL draft at the end of the month, April 27-29. Let’s look at how those with local ties are preparing for the professional sports grind.
Sperbeck moves – Thomas Sperbeck played multiple positions at Jesuit High School – quarterback, defensive back, special teams – and he set Boise State receiving records as a three-year starter. So the defining characteristic for Sperbeck is versatility. Instincts, too.
Sperbeck has the innate ability to adjust to a ball with over-the-shoulder catches, and to avoid tackles as he darts down field.
At Boise State’s pro day on Thursday, Sperbeck posted top marks in the 40-yard dash (4.47 seconds), 60-yard shuttle (11.06), Pro agility (your guess is as good as mine, but he clocked a 4.03) and the L-drill (same applies, and another good time of 6.73).
Representatives from 26 NFL teams and two Canadian Football League clubs were on hand for a version of what one might cal the Underwear Olympics.
The 6-foot, 180-pound Sperbeck has been compared to New England Patriots receiver Julian Edelman. Sperbeck didn’t drop any passes in the pro-day drills, of which scouts take notice. He had 80 receptions for 1,272 yards and nine touchdowns last season and is the Broncos’ all-time career leader with 3,601 yards.
Tanner time – Tanner Vallejo, a prolific tackler at linebacker for more than four seasons with Boise State, followed his NFL scouting combine workouts from February with another strong showing at BSU’s pro day.
The Nevada Union graduate said his surgically repaired wrist is fully healed (it wasn’t during the scouting combine).
Central Coast workouts – Cal Poly had nine athletes participate in pro-day workouts on Monday, including four with Sacramento-area roots. Defensive linemen Josh Letuligasenoa (Elk Grove) and Marcus Paige-Allen and receivers Carson McMurtrey (Folsom) and Willie Tucker (Oak Ridge) worked out in front of seven NFL scouts and one from the CFL.
Letuligasenoa drew a lot of focus. Scouts want to see if he can transition from down lineman to linebacker at 6-foot-2, 265 pounds. Paige-Allen has good bloodlines. His uncle, Larry Allen, is one of the strongest men in NFL history, a Hall of Fame offensive lineman who had a 12-year career with the Dallas Cowboys and 49ers.
NFL mix – Other local products expecting to get drafted or invited to NFL training camps as undrafted free agents include Oregon State offensive lineman Gavin Andrews (Granite Bay), Louisville tight end Cole Hikutini (Pleasant Grove), UCLA defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes (Placer) and Colorado cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (Christian Brothers).
Dano time – Not all eyes are set on the NFL. Dano Graves has been hired as quarterbacks coach for Cal Poly, where he earned second-team All-Big Sky Conference honors last fall. Graves was The Bee’s Player of the Year in 2010 after leading Folsom to the CIF State Division II championship. He overcame injuries at Cal Poly and became, “one of our greatest players.” Mustangs coach Tim Walsh said. “My dream is to coach,” Graves said.
Cam the man – And some eyes on are on the NBA. Former Grant star Cam Oliver has put his name into the NBA draft pool for the second successive season.