Former Bears Work Out for NFL Scouts at Cal's Pro Day

Photo: Linebacker Mike Mohamed is among former Cal players preparing for the NFL Draft. He ranks fourth in Cal history for tackles.
Simone Anne Lang/Photo
Linebacker Mike Mohamed is among former Cal players preparing for the NFL Draft. He ranks fourth in Cal history for tackles.

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Cal Football Pro Day

Up in the hills of Berkeley above Memorial Stadium, scouts from professional football teams came to Witter Rugby Field to recruit former Cal football players.

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Cal Football Pro Day
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Memorial Stadium looks like a mess of dirt, brick and metal right now, and will for another year or so. Not exactly optimal for the former Cal football players who showed off their wares before NFL scouts.

So the Cal Football Pro Day was held at Witter Rugby Field yesterday, just north of the Bears' old home. The field's pristine stretch of grass was torn out a year ago to make way for turf, and will serve as Cal's practice area next season.

Take a few steps, and the flaws are obvious; the green undulates up and down, creating pockets that caused a few players to slip during yesterday's drills. Hardly ideal conditions for making impressions on future employers.

"It's like being on the moon out here," linebacker Mike Mohamed said. "There's craters everywhere."

That was one reason not every departing player took part in the festivities. More importantly, though, was that the NFL Combine had taken place just a few weeks ago, and scouts already had a chance to take a look Cal's top four prospects: defensive end Cameron Jordan, tailback Shane Vereen, safety Chris Conte and Mohamed.

Vereen, who will likely be taken somewhere in the third round in April, sat out of timed events, opting just for position drills. So did Jordan, a projected first-round pick, and Mohamed, who may go as high as the fourth or fifth round.

"I felt comfortable and confident with my stuff that I did at the Combine," Vereen said. "I just wanted to come out here and do a little catching."

Jordan boosted his stock tremendously at the Senior Bowl in late January, and is expected to go in the top 15. At the Pro Day, he took part in linebacker drills for the first time ever.

"I'm down to do anything, really," he said. "Had they asked me to do some DB drills, I would've done some 360 turns in there too ... If you give me a week or two, I could kill that (linebacker) drill."

The offseason has also served as a chance for a number of players to focus solely on preparing for the draft. With little or no schoolwork - Mohamed, for example, graduated in December - some have completely reshaped their bodies.

Wide receiver Jeremy Ross, one of the team's most athletically gifted players, added muscle and ran a personal best 4.39 in the 40-yard dash. He also recorded a 39-inch vertical jump.

Conte, who had a breakout senior season, also looked noticeably stronger. The All-Pac-10 first teamer recorded a 4.46 in the 40 yesterday.

"You're training twice a day," Conte said. "You're on a meal plan, on a strict diet drinking nothing but water. Eating the right foods. It's hard not to get in good shape."

Added quarterback Kevin Riley: "I weigh almost about the same ... I weighed in at 214 today. I'm just not as fat."

Riley's collegiate career ended with a knee injury last fall, and many scouts didn't know he was healthy again; he said he's been running full speed for a month. If the Oregon native isn't drafted, he's open to playing in the CFL or elsewhere.

But an NFL season isn't a lock even for the expected draftees. Team owners and the NFL Player's Association have yet to agree on all the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement; in a worst case scenario, the union would be decertified and a lockout would be imminent.

"It's definitely a scary situation, especially for incoming rookies," Mohamed said. "I just hope that there's a deal done."

Jack Wang covers football. Contact him at [email protected]

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