Bolton headlines diverse Missouri group at pro day

Linebacker Nick Bolton, left, works on drills with Steelers inside linebacker coach Jerry Olsavsky on Monday at the Devine Pavillion in Columbia. Bolton is a projected first- or second-round pick and has spoken with several scouts including those representing the Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs and Steelers. Bolton was one of six Missouri players and one player from Central Missouri who participated in pro day.

Wilson Moore

Nick Bolton’s parents, brothers and agent sat behind the east end zone at Devine Pavilion. They had watched the former Missouri All-American linebacker run the 40-yard dash and do agility drills Monday, but position-specific workouts hadn’t yet started when a man in a Pittsburgh Steelers hoodie and a black gaiter approached them.

It was Steelers inside linebackers coach Jerry Olsavsky. He chatted with the family, who had driven up from Texas for Missouri’s football pro day, and told them he had some drills planned for Bolton later in the morning. Olsavsky liked what he had seen on film, he said, and he wanted to see the way Bolton moved in person.

Bolton said later in the afternoon he wished he had had a better day, but he’s still projected to be a first- or second-round selection. Even before Olsavsky’s drills, Bolton met with Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert on Zoom earlier this week. He estimated that he’s spoken with three-fourths of the NFL franchises.

“I feel like I can play in the NFL and be a high-caliber player,” Bolton said. “As much as I’ve proven myself right every day, I believed in myself. I’m checking myself in the best situations possible to succeed and that’s what I’m going to be trying to do on a daily basis.”

Five of Bolton’s teammates from last season also worked out Monday: running back Larry Rountree III, offensive lineman Larry Borom, receiver Damon Hazelton and safeties Tyree Gillespie and Joshuah Bledsoe. Receivers Jonathan Nance and Johnathon Johnson, who last played for Missouri in 2019, also were present along with Central Missouri tight end/punter Zach Davidson.

The event gave players a chance to show scouts anything that might not have been present during the season, whether that be because of scheme in the fall or improvements in the three months since the season ended. Rountree was Missouri’s bruising short-yardage back in 2020 while Tyler Badie worked more in the passing game. So Rountree ran drills with the receivers Monday after finishing at his own position.

“I’ve always had hands, I’ve just never had a chance to showcase them,” he said. “But I’ve always worked on my hands and getting better catching certain balls from different angles, working on certain things like that.”

Borom, meanwhile, weighed in at 325 pounds, down about 25 from his weight during the season. He played all along the line in college and hopes to do the same in the NFL.

“Any team I talked to was really just — anywhere on the line,” Borom said. “That’s really been the big thing, versatility. I can play anywhere. Me personally, I feel like I’m progressing well at tackle.”

Bledsoe ran and had measurements taken but didn’t participate in any drills beyond that. He injured his wrist during the Senior Bowl in January and will have his own pro day April 12 if doctors clear him. He recorded 41 tackles and an interception in 2020. His fellow safety Gillespie ran the fastest 40 time of the morning Monday at 4.38 seconds.

Hazelton came to Missouri as a graduate transfer after three seasons with Ball State and Virginia Tech, partially for the opportunity to improve his draft stock.

What followed was a mixed bag. Hazelton was a fixture in Missouri’s lineup, but never matched the production of his final season at Virginia Tech. He finished with 30 receptions and never topped 98 yards in a game.

“I told a scout today that I’m glad I came here, I’m glad I spent this time here,” he said. “I definitely developed on the field as well as off the field with my personal life. Just getting closer to guys and just continuing to work every day.”