Football

Former Badgers seek to secure professional looks at Wisconsin's pro day

Safety D'Cota Dixon was one of the biggest winners in Wednesday's pro day, dropping almost two tenths of a second off his 40-yard dash time from the NFL combine.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

With just six weeks until the 2019 NFL draft scouts and coaches from 24 NFL teams descended on Madison to get a further look at Wisconsin’s top professional football prospects.

The 2019 Wisconsin pro day featured 15 former Badgers and UW-Whitewater’s Nate Trewyn, who participated in a variety of physical tests and drills in front of their potential future employers.

For the eight players who had already attended the NFL scouting combine, Wednesday’s pro day was an opportunity to make up for an earlier bad result and make a deeper impression on team officials. For those who weren’t invited — especially defensive lineman Olive Sagapolu, Trewyn and defensive back Serge Trezy — Wednesday was likely their one shot to make an impression and get a shot at a professional career.

“There was a lot of questions scouts had about me, and luckily today I showed them who I am and how athletic I am,” Sagapolu said.

The former high school cheerleader, famous for his ability to backflip at a listed 342 pounds, impressed with a 30.5-inch vertical leap that would have tied for fourth at the combine among defensive players over 300 pounds. Sagapolu’s vertical leap test was one of the most energetic moments of the generally calm event, as players and coaches crowded around and cheered him higher on each successive jump.

“It’s exciting, especially trying to see a big man trying to get that high,” Sagapolu said. “Most people kinda doubt I can flip, but I kinda showed that on the vert.”

One of the most important tests of the day came as D’Cota Dixon lined up for his 40-yard dash. The former Badger safety isn’t known for his blazing speed, but the 4.81 time that he recorded in his first run at the combine had lowered his stock significantly.

Dixon said he knew he could run faster after he got a slow start at the combine, and he showed it on Wednesday with a 4.62.

“That’s more what I was doing in training so that’s who I am,” Dixon said. “I heard about [being listed at 4.81], I was like yeah that’s not me. I know what I can run, so if you think that I’m gonna just show you otherwise.”

After impressing at the combine, offensive linemen Michael Deiter and fullback Alec Ingold passed on the drills entirely. Linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel attempted to improve on his 40 time with a 4.56, while Ryan Connelly put up 17 bench press reps.

The player with the most to prove on Wednesday was likely Whitewater’s Nate Trewyn. The Division III All-American performed on the level of the Division I linemen in the physical tests, putting up 26 bench press reps and running 5.38 in the 40. The Janesville native said that he had seen plenty of NFL scouts at his practices in the fall, but the opportunity to perform for so many teams was important for his pre-draft process.

“It’s a great opportunity to be out with these Wisconsin o-linemen, especially these four guys who are being looked at by almost every NFL team,” Trewyn said. “I size up with all these guys, I’m able to play with all these guys.”

Trewyn said he felt good about how he had performed in drills against multiple Division I offensive linemen, and said he had heard positive feedback from the scouts in attendance. Ultimately though, for Trewyn and everyone else, the performance all 16 players put on tape will take a back seat to what they can do on the field.

“We’ve been training for the past two months to be track athletes,” offensive lineman Beau Benzschawel said. “It’s time to get back to football.”

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