A Family Affair At Texas’ Pro Day

 

As D’Onta Foreman crossed the finish line at Texas’ pro day, between a narrow aisle of NFL scouts, a blonde-haired woman shouted her enthusiasm. “That’s the one!” She then rejoined the Foreman family clan, more than a half-dozen cheerleaders for the junior running back who is foregoing his final season of eligibility to enter the NFL draft in April. She may be right. Both of Foreman’s 40-yard dashes clocked in at 4.45 seconds, which would have been fourth best among running backs at the NFL Combine, faster than more highly rated prospects Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey. Foreman was invited to the Combine but missed the event with a stress fracture in his foot.

The group was the largest for one single player—Foreman is the lone Texas player who is seen as a lock to make an NFL roster next season—but it certainly wasn’t the only one. Scores of dads, uncles, and siblings screamed “Dig!” and “Get there!” during the 40-yard dash and three-cone shuttle for almost every player. Two women wore sparkly burnt-orange jerseys of their family favorite, one for linebacker Tim Cole and one for defensive lineman Paul Boyette. D’Onta’s twin brother Armanti, who returns to Texas this fall for his senior season, chased a toddler around the practice field.

Apart from actual family members, current and former Texas football players, including Lions cornerback Quandre Diggs and Panthers running back Fozzy Whittaker showed up to support this outgoing class of Longhorns, which included, in addition to Foreman, Cole, and Boyette, Caleb Bluiett, Sheroid Evans, Dylan Haines, Kent Perkins, Tyrone Swoopes, Quincy Vasser, and Jacorey Warrick. Swoopes, notably, worked out at the tight end position instead of quarterback. He measured 6-foot-four, 247 pounds, and ran the 40 in 4.65 seconds, good for ninth among tight ends if he had run it at the NFL Combine. ESPN’s Max Olson reports that Swoopes has garnered interest from the Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Chicago Bears.

Joining that group were five since-graduated Longhorns looking for another shot in the NFL. Speedy wide receiver Daje Johnson was cut by the Falcons in June after going undrafted in 2016. Johnathan Gray hasn’t played football in two years after a series of achilles tears, but has garnered some interest from pro teams, and ran 4.56/4.58 40-yard dashes. Desmond “Tank” Jackson got a tryout with the Chiefs this May but didn’t catch on. Joshua Turner was dismissed and finally reinstated by former coach Charlie Strong in 2014, and hasn’t played since.

Notably present was quarterback David Ash, whose Texas career ended two games into the 2014 after a string of concussions. Cleared for football earlier this month, he went 29 of 36 in passing drills on Tuesday.

The biggest cheers of the day came during Foreman’s second try at the 40-yard dash. Still unaware of the official time of his first run, he blazed down the turf inside the Longhorns’ practice bubble at Frank Denius Fields. Foreman’s teammates, former players, family, and friends roared as he passed the halfway mark, sure he’d beaten his previous mark. It was an identical run, officially the same down to a tenth of a second, but, at 4.45 seconds, it may not matter.

Photos courtesy Texas Athletics.

 

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