Boston College: Pro Day gives some Eagles one final chance at a reunion and a job interview

CHESTNUT HILL – As college football fans or media members, we often forget that 17-21 year old kids are simply playing a game they love while trying to learn how to become adults.

On Saturdays, the only story we care about is how the team does. They obviously do too, but players are also trying to create their own legacies and write their own stories aside from the team result.

Friday afternoon at Fish Field House, Boston College hosted its NFL Pro Day and the 18 guys that took part had some interesting stories tied to their careers.

None of that mattered for about three hours, though.

Nearly 60 NFL and XFL scouts were on hand to watch how they performed in drills, interacted with fellow participants and followed instructions. For those three hours, 18 guys had one last chance to answer one question: “do you belong in the league?”

Zion Johnson, Alec Lindstrom and Isaiah Graham-Mobley all got a second chance with this after impressing at the NFL Combine. Johnson has flown up draft boards, Lindstrom’s consistent play throughout his college career almost guarantees he’ll be drafted and Graham-Mobley is just a freakish athlete, it’s hard to imagine him not getting taken by the end of the three-day weekend. For those three, Friday was just about putting icing on the cake and supporting teammates.

“It’s kind of like a weight lifted off your shoulders, because this is the last big step in the whole draft process, other than the draft,” said Lindstrom in front of about a dozen reporters Friday afternoon. “All the evaluation is over, now you can go strictly to football mode…the stress is kind of out of it, it’s not in my hands anymore and I did everything I could do, so it feels good.”

“It was a good experience, I had a good opportunity to work with some of the O-line coaches, the biggest thing was getting to see the guys I hadn’t seen in a while,” added Johnson. “I got to see my boys on the O-line, it was just a huge day. It was awesome. I think I accomplished what I wanted to, so I think it was good.”

Those O-line guys in particular were Ben Petrula and Tyler Vrabel. The group of four (why did no one, myself included, go with “The Four Horsemen” for them? Such a blown opportunity) is arguably the best group as a whole BC ever had. Petrula set a record with 60 straight starts and Vrabel was a consistent tackle for the team throughout his career.

Still, neither of them were invited to the NFL Combine, which meant Friday’s Pro Day was their final chance to show why the Horsemen (I’m riding with it now that I thought of it, it’s WrestleMania week after all) belong in the NFL together.

“Getting back up here in Boston this week, it was cool to see everybody and I was definitely nervous at first, then once we started getting going everything was fine,” Vrabel said. “Building up to it, you’ve got three months coming off the end of the season so you’re head’s kind of all over the place…I think the day went pretty well, kind of what I expected from doing Pro Day prep and stuff during time here at BC, I thought it went pretty well.”

Vrabel also had the luxury of having a father who is a Super Bowl champion and now the head coach of the Titans. Vrabel said he leaned on his dad Mike more on the personal side of things than the football side.

“The thing I’d say about that is that everything I’ve gotten has kind of come from me,” he said. “He’s obviously been a big help, just asking him certain questions, what to expect, how I carry myself, how I do certain things, more of a kind of outside of football help as opposed to O-line play. He’s definitely been a big help more as a father than a coach, which has been great.”

Graham Mobley was only with BC for a bit after coming over from Temple, but he’ll proudly represent the maroon and gold if he gets the call.

“I loved it all, I had a good time,” Graham-Mobley said of the Pro Day experience. “I’ve learned a lot through my six years of college. I’ve been able to get my bachelors, I’ve been able to get my masters from BC, I couldn’t be more grateful for that. Being able to showcase at the Combine really gave me a lot of confidence for (Pro Day) and that’s just going to push me further.”

Brandon Sebastian is another guy who got some exposure with post-season All Star recognition and game-week prep, which made Pro Day that much more enjoyable.

“I definitely feel like I was very prepared for this moment, especially here at BC, we train for this every winter, every spring,” he said. “I had tons of reps at it…I feel like everything went smoothly just as it should have.”

While there’s plenty of stories like those guys, there’s also always one or two every year that completely come out of left field. In this case, quite literally.

Dante Baldelli – formerly a Bishop Hendricken tight end – has been playing baseball at BC for five years now, but decided to take part in Pro Day. You also had guys like Isaiah Miranda, a running back who transferred to West Georgia looking to make a name for himself. Or, Bryce Morias, who transferred from BC to North Alabama last year, he came back to The Heights Friday to try and add another chapter to his story. JT Thompson went to SIU in 2021 and he too came back to be a part of the big day.

Max Roberts – signed as a UDFA last season by the Rams – was back in town looking to make another impression on the league. Mike Palmer, TJ Rayam, Grant Carlson, Brandon Barlow, Travis Levy, Trae Barry and Dennis Grosel all had strong days and could easily get signed if they’re not drafted, much like Roberts, Max Richardson and Isaiah McDuffie did last season.

Barry would be the second tight end drafted in two years for the Eagles after Hunter Long went to Miami last year.

“It was awesome being able to come back up here and see some teammates,” he said. “We’ve all kind of been in our own little habitat just training and getting ready for this day. It was cool to see everyone reunite.”

Some of these stories will end with a dream being realized. Others may not have the same happy ending, but for one final day at least, the 2022 Pro Day participants were able to showcase the growth of the program while closing out their college chapter in style as the NFL looked on.