LAFAYETTE — Jamal Robinson was shooting for the stars at Louisiana-Lafayette’s pro day Wednesday – and he just might’ve reached them.
“I was striving for a 4.3 (40-yard dash) and to get 20 reps on the bench and at least a 37 on the vertical,” Robinson said.
He basically reached those goals. In front of scouts and assistant coaches from 18 NFL teams and one CFL team, Robinson ran a hand-timed 4.47 second 40-yard dash, pushed out 24 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press, and recorded a 36.5-inch vertical leap.
That blazing time might’ve been even better. Of the 13 former Cajuns testing in front of NFL scouts Wednesday, Robinson was the only player to run the 40-yard dash three times. The reasoning behind that, according to a member of the Cajuns staff, was because he was timed at 4.37 on his second 40-yard dash attempt.
Robinson trained rigorously this offseason at EXOS training center in Phoenix along with high-profile receivers Will Fuller of Notre Dame and Pharaoh Cooper of South Carolina. That training made him unsurprised by his high test scores.
“They got my technique down and made me more powerful and strong,” Robinson said. “We did our times out there and I was getting 4.4, so I was just striving for something better.”
Robinson’s banner day compared favorably to what more heralded receivers did at the NFL combine last month.
His 4.47 second 40-yard dash would’ve put him among the top-10 wide receivers in this year’s class, though the combine results were recorded electronically. His 24 repetitions on the bench would’ve been four more than the next closest receiver, and his vertical leap would’ve been tied for eighth best.
Robinson also did not drop a pass during the portion of pro day when he ran routes, even though he had to catch passes from emergency fill in Brady Thomas, a former Cajuns quarterback and current graduate assistant.
The only measurable Robinson didn’t crush was his actual physical measurement. Though he has been listed by the school at 6-foot-4, he said scouts measured him at 6-foot-1 today. He couldn’t believe it, and neither could his former teammates.
“They messed up,” said offensive lineman Mykhael Quave. “They had to. Me and him look eye-to-eye, and I’m not 6-1. They had me at 6-foot-4 and three quarters. For them to list him at 6-foot-1, that’s surprising.”
Robinson wasn’t the only former Cajun to have a good day in front of what they hope to be their future employers.
Quave, whose season ended in October of last year when he tore his rotator cuff against Louisiana Tech, went through every drill and test with the exception of the bench press.
He said his shoulder is strong enough to test now, but his endurance isn’t where it needs to be, and he plans on sending a video of himself performing on the bench to NFL teams before the draft.
It was a long process for Quave to get to where he could participate in Wednesday’s pro day, one where he had to learn how to be patient. Quave did all of his training in New Jersey.
“I took the process slow, because I knew it was going to be a long journey,” Quave said. “I knew that this time would come and I had to stay patient. I couldn’t try to rush everything … because I can’t afford to have any more injuries or tweak anything.
“I took it day-by-day. It was tough sometimes, because I wanted to get out there.”
Tovell also impressed with a 37.5-inch vertical leap – the best of any Cajuns participant at Wednesday’s pro day.
The Mississippi native trained for the pro day in Milwaukee. Unlike Robinson, he never actually tested himself ahead of time in that event, but after training with weighted vests he thought he would do well.
Though his early professional prospects may have been riding on what happened Wednesday, Tovell said he wasn’t nervous about the outcome.
“It’s like studying for a test,” Tovell said. “When you study two months ahead of time, there’s nothing to be nerve wracking about. I was excited, I felt like I was going to play another game, that’s how I made it feel. I came out here and did what I did.
“All you can do is run fast, jump high and make some cuts here and there. That’s it. Can’t overthink it too much.”
All that’s left to do now is wait. The NFL draft is roughly a month and a half away. The standard line for those with NFL dreams is that they just hope to hear their name called.
“It’s a childhood dream to hear your name called across the screen and you’re getting that phone call,” Tovell said. “If I could get Mr. Irrelevant (the last pick in the draft), I would take it.”