The Hunt Report: Small college Pro Day watch features Cam Newton’s brother, a pair of QBs, more

Pro Day season is upon us, with many already underway across the country. While many small college prospects won’t have enough of a draw to hold their own trade day at their respective schools, you’ll see a lot of these kids sprinkled in for trade days at major programs.

However, there are some small college programs that have multiple prospects this testing cycle and that also have some top kids that will help attract a lot of scouts to their pro day. This provides a great opportunity for some of their teammates to step up and steal the spotlight, so to speak. Maybe not to that extreme, but definitely to make sure scouts know their names and go back on tape to see their plays as well.

Here’s a look around this month’s pro day schedule and some of the prospects to keep an eye on as they are most likely to show up and appear to pro scouts and evaluators.

For more draft content, check out our latest prospect ranking and mock drafts, as well as our new weekly podcast, “First choice” with former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. (See last episode below.)

SE Missouri State (March 10)

RB Geno Hess: 5-8, 222

Hess finished as the program’s all-time leading rusher with 4,112 career yards, averaging a healthy six yards per carry and scoring 53 rushing touchdowns. He’s proven he can carry the load, so this day will be about his ability as a receiver coming out of the backfield, as he only had 17 career receptions at SEMO.

WR Johnny King: 6-4, 208

Watch for King at this pro day, as the NFL is always looking for big-bodied players who are top threats inside the red zone. King has great leaping ability and has the Gumby-like athleticism you look for at the position, showing he can turn his body to make any catch thrown his way.

Mercer (March 15)

QB Fred Payton: 6-0, 215

Payton is coming off a great all-star game run, performing well in both the FCS Bowl and the Tropical Bowl. Talking to some scouts in Orlando for the Tropical Bowl, they jokingly informed me of how upset they were at The Hunt report for exposing Payton to the masses as he was their best kept secret at the position. He is a highly efficient passer who is very consistent with his positioning.

Northern Iowa (March 20)

OC Erik Sorensen: 6-6, 306

Sorensen’s film against Air Force was almost clinic tape. I was amazed at the level of consistency, athleticism and hand use. For such a taller centre, he played at an exceptional level, never looking out of place. I’d be interested to see how he tests, because his tape is more than enough to see him on an NFL roster come summer.

Maine (March 21)

WR/RB/HB Zavier Scott: 6-0, 215

Scott is one of the most versatile talents in the draft class, having spent time as a wide receiver, tailback and H-Back. Maine’s pro day will give scouts a much clearer picture of where he projects best as a pro. If it were up to me, he projects better as an offensive weapon, which is how valuable he was on the field for the Black Bears.

Princeton (March 21)

WR Dylan Classi: 5-11, 190

We’ve talked about Classi before, as he was in the midst of presenting at the Tropical Bowl last January.

With many scouts traveling to Princeton to see his teammate, Andrei Iosivasexpect many scouts to consider Classi’s ability as an option in the slot.

Delaware (March 22)

QB Nolan Henderson: 6-0, 195

One of the best kept secrets of the QB class is the former Blue Hens signal caller.

Henderson is a powerful athlete with a whip for a hand. Possessing the ability to throw from many different arm angles, expect his pro day to look a lot like Zach Wilson’s. That would be one of the goals for me if I am an XFL or USFL franchise. He has the game tailored for the spring game, and it would give him a chance to get tape against pro competition.

William & Mary (March 23)

TE Lachlan Pitts: 6-5, 254

Pitts is just a bully of a player as an inline blocker. On film you see him throw defenders to the side. He brings that same level of aggression with him as a route runner. To me, he is one of the most underrated prospects in the draft class.

WR Caylin Newton: 5-10, 205

Newton has quietly developed into a very good special teams player and will find a home there right out of the gate. At the pro day, scouts will want to see how much he’s progressed as a wide receiver. I think he’s a slot, and if his performance in the Tropical Bowl in January is any indication, he’s trending in the right direction.

Texas Southern (March 24)

DB Raheem Fuller: 6-2, 214

Fuller’s teammate Derrick Tucker will be the main draw here, but you’ll start to hear some nice buzz coming out of this pro day for Fuller himself. Again, when you combine that size, technical skills and ability to play multiple spots in the secondary, you’ll be a highly sought after prospect by pro scouts.

California (PA) (March 28)

QB Noah Mitchell: 6-3, 235

Mitchell was one of the first players we talked about earlier in the season The Hunt report, and went on to have another stellar campaign for the Vulcans. His game reminds me a lot of Josh Freeman, with good pass rush and confidence to work the touchdown-to-check down in the passing game. If I’m in the USFL and XFL, I’d be pro all day.

Morgan State (March 29)

RB Alfonzo Graham: 5-9, 180

I was the color analyst for many of Graham’s games at Morgan State and he was always a fun player to watch.

And as I noted back in January at the HBCU Combine/Legacy Bowl, his practice certainly raised the eyebrows of the scouts in attendance.

He will impress with his lateral quickness and agility, in addition to what he can do as a return specialist.

Ouachita Baptist (March 30)

RB TJ Cole: 5-10, 200

Cole rushed for nearly 4,000 yards at OBU, averaging 6.9 yards per carry and scoring 49 rushing touchdowns. It is the combination of fluidity and acceleration that has made him such a dominant player. With only 24 career receptions on his resume, this is a great opportunity for him to show his potential as a receiving threat moving forward.

TE Hunter Swoboda: 6-4, 254

Swoboda had a great week of work at the College Gridiron Showcase, showing off his ability as a passer. He wasn’t asked to do much of that at OBU, because he was an excellent blocker in the run game. This will be another opportunity for him to build on the foundation laid in January.

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