Pro day is often the last chance for players to make an impression on NFL teams ahead of the draft.
That goes double for Christian LaCouture.
After not getting invited to the NFL combine last month, LSU’s pro day was perhaps his final hope of landing on a team’s radar.
In the end, it still might not be enough to hear his name on draft day, but LaCouture certainly didn’t disappoint.
The LSU defensive lineman set a school record with 41 reps on the 225-pound bench press test, falling one shy of what would have been tied for the top score at the combine last month.
“Man, that’s crazy,” said LaCouture’s best friend and teammate Greg Gilmore. “But you know what? I’ve seen Christian do 45 reps before. So I knew what he was capable of doing.”
Joining the former No. 18 in a final push was running back Darrel Williams and wide receiver Russell Gage.
Gage, who was also not invited to the NFL combine, showed off his athleticism.
He ran a 4.42 seconds in the 40-yard sash, a 7.03 in the three-cone drill and a 4.25 in the 20. He also did 15 reps on the bench press and had the top vertical jump of 39 inches.
Going in, Gage said he thought he could run a sub-4.4 because he’s been clocking 4.38s and 4.39s in training.
“I’m happy for it at the end of the day," he said. “I wanted to run a little faster. I set my expectations high. … But I’m thankful for the opportunity I have.”
While Williams did make the trip to Indianapolis, he said Wednesday was more about improvement.
The noticeably slimmer Williams ran a 4.59 in the 40, down from 4.72 at the combine.
Noticeable no shows
Four of LSU’s combine invitees participated only in position drills Wednesday, including running back Derrius Guice, wide receiver DJ Chark, quarterback Danny Etling and center Will Clapp.
Offensive lineman Toby Weathersby also held out of most drills with the exception of vertical jump.
For Chark, it wasn’t a surprise he sat on his previous times after running a 4.34 in the 40 as the fastest receiver.
“People always said I was fast, people knew I was fast, I said I was fast,” Chark said. “But nobody knew how fast. I haven’t been timed since high school, so be able to come out and show 4.34, fastest receiver, pretty elite speed, that’s one of the things I can do but not the only thing I could do.”
#LSU WR DJ Chark on his 4.34 time in the 40 at the NFL Combine (he did not run at Pro Day):— Mike Gegenheimer (@Mike_Gegs) April 4, 2018
“People always said I was fast, people knew I was fast, I said I was fast but nobody knew how fast.” pic.twitter.com/VlyPD4eC8R
Guice said his main focus was to show his receiving abilities after reading reports it was a weakness for him.
"That's not what (teams) tell me, but I read it everywhere," Guice said. "That was one of the main focuses."
And a SLO-Mo shot of Danny Etling to Derrius Guice pic.twitter.com/WYB0WckL67— Mike Gegenheimer (@Mike_Gegs) April 4, 2018
Getting a shot?
Of the 26 athletes who worked out, two never played football at LSU.
Brian Bridgewater, who played forward on the LSU basketball team from 2014-17, and Aaron Ernest, a 11-time All-American sprinter from 2012-15, were in the large group hoping to catch the eye of scouts.
Bridgewater played tight end for Episcopal and Scotlandville high schools and Ernest, a native New Orleanian, played wide receiver in high school in Alabama after relocating after Hurricane Katrina.
Bridgewater said he got some nice feedback from the scouts about his pass-catching ability, while Ernest wowed the group with times of 4.31 and 4.33 seconds in the 40 as well as a 37½-inch vertical leap. The 5-foot-11, 166-pounder also did 12 reps in the bench press.
A large group of former LSU players who were on NFL rosters last fall were on hand to watch the newest crop of Tigers get their shot Wednesday.
Among the players who were in the same position a year ago and returned to lend their support were Leonard Fournette (Jacksonville), Tre’Davious White (Buffalo), Kendell Beckwith (Tampa Bay), Ethan Pocic (Seattle), Davon Godchaux (Miami) and Tashawn Bower (Minnesota).