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'We might as well do it ourselves': Wolverines hold their own Pro Day after UM's gets canceled

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Rossford, Ohio – It was a Pro Day without pro scouts.

In less than 24 hours it was a quick turnaround to make something out of nothing, giving a few former Michigan players, including quarterback Shea Patterson, tight end Sean McKeon and receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, an opportunity to throw and run routes in what amounted to a virtual Pro Day.

Shea Patterson

The session Friday morning at the Total Sports Complex in northwest Ohio was the idea of Bryan Ehrlich, Patterson’s agent from Priority Athletes, who wanted to find some way for them to see the fruition of their hard offseason work. Michigan’s Pro Day was scheduled for Friday, but that was canceled Thursday along with all spring sports in response to growing concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patterson, McKeon and Peoples-Jones, who were among the 11 former Michigan players who participated in the NFL Combine, were also joined for the drills by former Michigan receiver Jacob West, who was a grad student last season. All week they had been working on the script they'd run at Pro Day.

“We put the work in all week, so we decided to show up and find a way to get the work in,” Patterson said after the throwing session.

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All of their drills were recorded and will be condensed to about 10 minutes of tape that will be sent to every NFL team, since scouts were called off the road on Thursday. The players said private workouts have been postponed for now.

“I was definitely disappointed they canceled Pro Day. Definitely understand, though. A lot of people in one area, don’t want to take any chances,” said McKeon, who was unable to run the 40 or go through drills at the combine because of a hamstring injury. “We’ve been training for this for a while, so just treating it as business as usual and getting some work in.”

McKeon said his hamstring is healthy and he wanted to record a 40 time. His goal was 4.6, which he ran in high school, admittedly, he laughed, at a lighter weight. He said he knows not having an official time hurts his draft stock. Peoples-Jones had hoped to improve on his 4.48 40 he ran at the combine.

“We felt so ready for (Pro Day) and for them to cancel it, we’re like, we might as well do it ourselves,” Peoples-Jones said. “We’ve been doing this all week, it’s nothing new, might as well just do it ourselves and come out here and have another work day.”

Peoples-Jones said he surprised himself with his head-turning showing in the vertical and broad jumps at the combine. He had the highest vertical jump among the receivers at 44.5 inches, which tied for third-best at the combine since 2006. He also had the longest broad jump at 11 feet, 7 inches, tied for sixth-best since 2006. Peoples-Jones said both were personal records.

“OK, that’s ridiculous,” Patterson said, laughing as he described his reaction to Peoples-Jones’ numbers at the combine. “He’s been doing that since he was a junior in high school. He’s not human.”

Sean McKeon and Shea Patterson

They all felt getting something more on tape for NFL teams to consider was a good move.

“That was important,” Peoples-Jones said. “It was important to make this as much a Pro Day as possible. Even if the scouts weren’t able to attend this, hopefully they got enough video evidence and everything they need, even with the cones and the hashes, five-yard markers, hopefully they got everything they need to see.”

Patterson said that while it was not a lot to show teams, it was something. And it showed their work ethic and desire to find a way to offer scouts another opportunity to see and study their abilities. He looked sharp on his throws, and McKeon, who said his strength is his versatility as a strong blocker and receiver, was crisp. Peoples-Jones made a nifty one-handed catch before their official session began.

“At least we got some stuff on film and actually got to do the work,” Patterson said before assessing his performance in the makeshift Pro Day. “I thought I went out there and slung it around a little bit. Had guys running all over the field. I thought I looked a little smooth.”

Patterson and Peoples-Jones have been getting in a lot of work together in recent weeks.

“He just wants to compete,” Peoples-Jones said of Patterson, Michigan’s starter the last two seasons. “He’s hitting me up, ‘Let’s do this, let’s come in.’ He wanted me to come in early and work with him and that’s what I did. I want to be here for him, and he wants to be here for me. We kinda going in this together. He’s done a wonderful job. I’m so proud of him. He’s a competitor.”

While the four former Wolverines took the initiative and recorded their virtual Pro Day, they said they felt for players like defensive end Mike Danna and linebacker Jordan Glasgow, who were not invited to the combine and would have benefited from being before scouts at Michigan's Pro Day.

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“Definitely sucks for them the most,” McKeon said. “I feel like they both could have been invited to the combine. They both did play at the Shrine Game and got exposure there, so it’s not like they’re left in the dark completely. But hopefully they reschedule it for guys like them and me and anyone else who has to test.”

All of them said they don’t know what’s next, for example, if they might be able to reschedule individual workouts with NFL teams.

Patterson said he hasn’t given much thought to where he might be drafted or what he’s heard about those possibilities. That's as much an unknown as pretty much everything these days.

“Forever thankful for Michigan,” Patterson said. “That’s been my home. Just looking to find a new one.”