MAKING AN IMPACT: Senior Pirates scouted at pro day
Published 3:53 pm Saturday, March 26, 2016
GREENVILLE — Tight end Bryce Williams and linebacker Montese Overton were the only two East Carolina football players invited to February’s NFL Scouting Combine. Williams, Overton and the rest of the graduating Pirates all had another chance to impress an array of professional scouts Thursday at ECU’s pro timing day.
Scouts watched on as each senior ran drills. Williams, who many have pegged as a mid to late-round draft choice, was clearly a center of attention. He didn’t feel the pressure, though. He went into the morning intending to improve on the combine results that already established him as a likely draftee.
“When I’m out there doing my thing, it’s always just football,” Williams said. “I don’t let any of that get to me at all.”
“The 40 was a little tricky holding that stance longer than I’m used to,” Williams added. It took him a couple of times to take off correctly, but he said he improved on the 4.94 he ran at the combine. “Everything else I was fine with.”
When just about everyone else was done with their workouts, Williams was still showing off his receiving abilities to scouts. His ability to line up about anywhere, get down field and make a catch in stride is something that not only helped ECU during the past few seasons. It also caught the attention of NFL teams along the way.
The players that didn’t get a combine invite not only had extra time to train, but also went into Thursday with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. Such was the case with linebacker Zeek Bigger.
“It was just something that made me want to work harder,” he said. “The man upstairs has plans and he’s got different plans than anybody else. I’m still humble and I’m glad to be here. The combine didn’t happen, so it gave me more time to train.
“… I think I did pretty good. I left it all out there. That’s one thing you want to do. You don’t want to go back and be regretting things, thinking ‘I should have done this better, I should have done that better.’ You go out here and do it, no freelance, don’t think, just do it. That’s what I did today and I feel very good. I feel like I accomplished a lot.”
The experience wasn’t something that made Bigger too nervous, but having his teammates there to cheer him along made it easier. He’s been a leader for ECU for some time now. As such, he’s often the one pushing his fellow Pirates to get better, so it was nice having them to the same for him as he auditioned for scouts.
“I was a captain and I was a captain, really, since I was a freshman or sophomore,” Bigger said. “These boys, like I’ve always said, we push each other. … They came out again and we showed that we can do it.”
One of the things Bigger has set his sights on recently is preparing for the speed of professional football. He recalled what it took for him to prepare for and adjust to the speed of college football.
“There it’s more of a mindset game and trying to make the plays,” he said. “You’ve got to know where to be and how to get there.“
The NFL Draft starts on April 28. Last year featured Justin Hardy, who was watching his former Pirate teammates on Thursday, getting selected in the fourth round by the Atlanta Falcons. Williams, Bigger and other Pirates have their sights set on following him to the NFL.