Pro Day sees several different types of prospects perform

Sam Porter

A new program high of 26 NFL Scouts attended WKU’s Pro Day on Monday to get a glance of the talent leaving the Hilltopper program. Former WKU offensive lineman Forest Lamp and wide receiver Taywan Taylor highlighted the talent as both are projected to be drafted in the early rounds. However, 26 scouts didn’t come just to watch two players perform. Several other players such as linebacker Keith Brown also worked out hoping to prove to the NFL scouts that they can play at the next level. Here are some takeaways from WKU’s pro day.

Forest Lamp could play any position on the line

There’s no question that Forest Lamp will get his shot at the next level. The Venice, Florida, native worked out at center, guard and tackle during his pro day. While at WKU, Lamp actually started at guard before moving to left tackle for the rest of his career. Although he’s never played center, NFL scouts still worked him out at the position

“Center is very different,” Lamp said following the

Pro Day. “People have told me the hardest thing for an offensive lineman to do is snap the ball and step at the same time. It’s definitely one of the hardest things I’ve done. The more versatile you are, the more you can work in different systems.”

Lamp started 51 games during his time on the Hill and earned first team All-Conference USA in 2015 and 2016. Lamp is one of the top rated offensive lineman according to almost every draft board. He was part of a select group of players invited to the NFL Draft, but because he can only bring six guests, Lamp said he will likely watch the draft with his family. If Lamp is picked 73rd or better as expected, he will become the highest drafted player in WKU history.

From walk-ons to prospects

One of Lamp’s workout partners on Pro Day was the man that played center alongside him at WKU. Max Halpin came to WKU at the same time as Lamp;  however, Halpin came to campus as a walk-on and earned a scholarship and a spot in the starting lineup after redshirting in his first year at WKU. Halpin anchored one of the best offensive lines in the nation last season. Although he’s not projected anywhere near as high as Lamp is, Halpin still hopes an NFL team will give him a chance.

“When I first came here as a walk-on, my primary goal was to play,” Halpin said.

“As the years went on I started so many games and I thought I’d give it a shot at the next level. I’m happy I’m out here today at pro day. It’s a goal of mine that I’ve achieved.”

Another former walk-on hoping to earn a spot on an NFL roster is former Hilltopper long snapper Nolan Dowling. Dowling was named all C-USA Honorable mention in 2014 and 2015 after snapping the ball 290 times with just one blocked kick. He worked out with several scouts during WKU’s Pro Day hoping one of them will take notice and give him a shot.

“I was here last year watching them,” Dowling said of the Hilltoppers’ Pro Day in 2016. “I was watching Schwetty [former WKU kicker Garrett Schwettman] and I tweaked a few things based on what he did and just focused on actually wanting to participate in all the drills because not a lot of the long snappers do all of the drills and I was just like, ‘I’m gonna do every single one of them.’ I gotta be able to show that I’m athletic enough to be at the next level. Hopefully someone liked what they saw.

“For long snappers, it’s high school all over again. We’re the last ones to get recruited and we’re the last ones to get looked at.”

Several players could go late or in free agency

Lamp and Taylor seem to be the only two Hilltoppers that are guaranteed to hear their names called during April’s NFL Draft, but there are plenty of players that could wind up going in the sixth or seventh rounds or get picked up in free agency. Some of these names that could be drafted late or picked up in free agency are Ace Wales, Nicholas Norris and Keith Brown. 

“I think it’s grown a lot,” Lamp said about the attention from NFL scouts.

“I remember my freshman year there were maybe 10 or 12 scouts. Today there were close to 30. We had just as good players back then, our program just wasn’t as known yet. Obviously,  when your team wins, you get more attention.” 

Reporter Sam Porter can be reached at 270-799-8247 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @sammyp14.