NFL, CFL scouts come out to watch Charleston Southern players on pro day
Charleston Southern’s football program has become a top 20 FCS program over the last three seasons, and that success has brought increased exposure that is aiding players as they seek to move on to the professional level.
Running back Darius Hammond already has signed a contract with the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League. On Monday, CSU hosted a pro day for several players with scouts from the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers on hand, as well as representatives from the CFL.
Offensive lineman Erik Austell and running back Mike Holloway are CSU’s top hopes of earning a professional contract. Cornerback Malcolm Jackson and linebacker Aaron Brown, who last played on the 2015 CSU squad, also worked out for scouts. Jackson spent two weeks in the Kansas City Chiefs camp last August.
Austell became the first CSU player in school history to be invited to the NFL combine in Indianapolis two weeks ago. The 6-3, 301-pounder went through drills with linemen from all levels of college football and fared quite well, finishing in the upper half of his position group.
Austell, who has played tackle but is likely a guard or center in the pros, did limited workouts at Monday’s combine but continues to draw solid interest.
“It’s been crazy, kind of a blur because it’s all happening so fast,” Austell said. “The combine was a great experience. Being out there with the best in the country and being able to represent what we stand for at CSU on a national level was pretty cool.”
Austell says the combine process was a great learning experience and he feels he displayed his football intelligence.
“Being versatile is a big deal and they like that about me,” said Austell, a two-time first-team all Big-South selection and a second-team FCS All-American. “I am working a lot at center. Probably my biggest draw is my ability to play guard and center. I have worked a lot on my snapping and I feel like I am getting good at it. I am comfortable with it.”
Holloway finished his career as CSU’s all-time leading rusher, gaining 2,623 yards and averaging 7.7 yards per carry for his career. Holloway averaged 8.39 yards per rush this season, tops in the country.
Monday was Holloway’s first experience with a pro day and he plans to attend one at Coastal Carolina on March 31. Holloway (5-8, 190) did 16 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press while posting a 35.5-inch vertical jump. His 40-yard dash times were in the 4.5 range.
“It’s a chance to maybe play in the NFL so it’s exciting and I am blessed to have this opportunity,” Holloway said. “I felt good today. Always wish I could do better. I did okay for my first time. Hopefully I can improve and do better in a few weeks.”
Holloway is hoping that professional teams look at game tape and see his production rather than just his performance in the pro day workouts.
“I feel like it comes down to if I can play ball or not and I feel I can,” said Holloway, who graduates in May with a degree in kinesiology. “I hope they take it all into consideration. I love football and I want to continue to play as long as I can.”
Several players from Newberry College also participated on Monday, including former Ashley Ridge running back Romelo Doctor and former Wando offensive lineman Tyler Stasky.