If it was good enough for Kerry Meier, it’s good enough for Brad Thorson.
That was the thought behind the lumberjack beard Thorson grew during his training for Kansas University’s football pro timing day, which took place Wednesday at the Anderson Family Football Complex and Memorial Stadium.
Asked if he thought the beard would help his NFL Draft stock, Thorson was honest about the origin of his new look.
“I don’t know. Kerry had one last year,” he said, referring to Meier, who was drafted in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by Atlanta. “When somebody tells me, ‘You’re done playing football,’ I’m gonna have to shave up, get a real haircut and go work in the real world. I won’t go into a camp with this beard, but it was a fun training thing, and I like being noticeable. People don’t miss a beard like this.”
The nine pro scouts on hand Wednesday — from Atlanta, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Green Bay, New England, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Carolina and New Orleans — also had a hard time missing Thorson’s performance. In addition to demonstrating decent speed for an offensive lineman, Thorson weighed in above the magic 300-pound mark and showed good agility and work ethic throughout the event.
“They had me do sets at both tackles and both guards, and I felt fluid there,” Thorson said. “I’ve got the versatility, and I could add depth to a roster (because) I’m a single guy who could play a couple positions. This is kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So I hope my showing was at least good enough, and now it’s kind of a wait-and-see game.”
Thorson was one of 10 Jayhawks measured for everything from height, weight and hand size to strength, vertical jump and speed in the 40-yard dash.
While the Jayhawks being worked out were in the spotlight, several other KU players, past and present, offered support. At least a dozen current Jayhawks showed up, and former Jayhawks Darrell Stuckey, Mike Rivera, Dexton Fields, Jake Sharp and Marcus Henry also returned to Memorial Stadium to check out KU’s latest crop of NFL hopefuls. In addition to the support of their peers, nearly all of the KU coaches peeked in at one point, each well aware of what was on the line.
“I think it’s very important,” defensive coordinator Carl Torbush said. “The opportunity for these guys to get signed or not get signed is based on what they do today.”
Wide receiver Johnathan Wilson was one of the day’s top performers. Wilson had the highest vertical jump (35.5 inches) and the longest broad jump (10 feet, 2 inches). He also ran his 40 in the 4.5-second range.
“I feel pretty good about everything I did,” Wilson said. “I feel like my training really paid off.”
Not far behind Wilson was cornerback Chris Harris, who was clocked on one watch at 4.35 seconds in the 40 and delivered numbers near Wilson’s in the other categories — a 34-inch vertical and a 10-1 broad jump.
One of the more entertaining moments came during position drills, when Harris was working his ball skills and suddenly saw two passes flying his way.
“They weren’t supposed to do that,” Harris said. “I saw both of them, and I thought, ‘Should I catch both and try to look good or just catch the one at its highest point?’ I decided to just go for the high one.”
Linebackers Justin Springer (26) and Drew Dudley (23) recorded the highest number of reps in the 225-pound bench press.
“I’m definitely glad we got some good results,” Harris said. “We’ve all been working hard for seven, eight weeks, and that hard work paid off today. Hopefully, I opened some eyes. I think we all did.”