The stars came out Thursday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center — the stars that wore scarlet and gray last fall and the ones who stalk NFL sidelines on Sundays.
Five NFL head coaches plus four defensive coordinators and two general managers — and 140 NFL representatives in all — attended Ohio State's annual Pro Day. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watched 17 players work out, as did Mike Tomlin, of the Steelers, Matt Patricia, of the Lions, and Mike Zimmer, of the Vikings.
The players seemed to enjoy the attention despite the stress that came with it. All hope to hear their names called during the NFL Draft April 26-28. Some are locks. Some have to prove themselves in these workouts.
"It's been amazing," said linebacker Jerome Baker, who left Ohio State with one year of eligibility remaining. "I live by the motto, 'I'm living my best life.' That's exactly what I'm doing. Everyone makes it seem like this process is so stressful and so non-fun. You're about to go to the next level. You might as well as have fun. You got to this point because you're good at what you do."
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NFL.com predicts Baker will be picked in the second or third round. His former teammate, quarterback J.T. Barrett, may not hear his name called until the seventh round if he gets drafted at all, but he showed his arm in front of scouts at Pro Day.
"I was just trying to enjoy it," Barrett said. "That's the main thing. It comes and goes pretty fast. You don't want to get too wrapped up in and not enjoy it. It was a good day. Solid. I wish I had a couple of throws back, but that's part of it, even in a game."
One Ohio State prospect with a strong chance of being selected in the first or second round didn't work out. Center Billy Price remains sidelined by a incomplete pectoral tear, which he suffered at the NFL Combine on March 1. Price watched his teammates run sprints and perform drills Thursday and said his injury isn't a serious concern.
"It's not going to be an issue," Price said. "I should be good by June. I'll be bench pressing and be at full strength again."
Another Buckeye expected to go in the early rounds is defensive end Sam Hubbard, who had 2½ sacks in his final college game in December, the Cotton Bowl victory against Southern California. He said he wanted to reinforce what the coaches have seen of him on tape in his workout.
"I was happy to go out there and do that," Hubbard said. "It's a lot of motivation to go as hard as you possibly can, especially when you've got guys like Matt Patricia and Bill Belichick coaching you up. It was an incredible experience."