Panthers show off talent to NFL

ELIOT CLOUGH, Sports Editor

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Twelve NFL scouts made their way to the UNI-Dome March 26, to get a look at what UNI has to offer for NFL talent.

Eight graduating UNI seniors took to the field to showcase their skills, participating in position drills, the 40-yard dash, broad jump, shuttle drill, three-cone drill and 60-yard shuttle drill.

Those seniors included Rickey Neal Jr., Elias Nissen, Marcus Weymiller, Brink Jolly, Eli Dunne and Bryce Douglas.

Austin Errthum, a kicker for UNI this past season, kicked field goals, but did not participate in any of the drills. Offensive lineman Cal Twait also weighed in and met with scouts, but did not participate due to a late season injury.

While UNI football doesn’t have a glamourous name coming into the draft like they have the last few years (Daurice Fountain, Elijah Campbell, Karter Schult, David Johnson), a few of the athletes certainly garnered attention from several scouts.

Nissen, a tight end for the Panthers, showed off his ability to block this season, not necessarily catching very many balls, as he sat opposite of Briley Moore, who was ranked as one of the top tight ends in the country according to herosports.com.

Nissen only grabbed 12 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns, as opposed to Moore’s 39 catches for 536 yards and four touchdowns.

“[Today] was important,” said Nissen after the workout. “I need to prove to the scouts that were here that I am an athletic tight end, a guy that can run the route, run a quick 40 and be able to prove that.”

Prove that, he did. Nissen showcased his speed, running a blazing 4.62 40-yard dash, which would have placed him as the third-fastest tight end at the NFL Combine held earlier this month in Indianapolis, Ind.

Neal, another big name for the Panthers at linebacker, was primary focus for the NFL scouts as well, being pulled aside by a Jacksonville Jaguars scout to test his ability at a position unfamiliar to him.

“They took me from [defensive] end to safety in a matter of seconds. So, I kind of had to switch hats. One [position] is more about force, while the other [position] is more about finesse,” said Neal following the position drills.

“To be honest, it kind of caught me off guard. I want to be a linebacker in the NFL. I know that for a fact. I didn’t anticipate playing free safety or defensive end just based off my size.”

Nissen, Neal and several other Panthers will be looking towards the draft as well as free agent signing, as the draft takes place from Thursday, April 25, through Saturday, April 27.

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