On a warm, sunny day at the Sun Bowl, several UTEP Miners got an opportunity to show off what they could do in front of several pro scouts on Thursday. The list included teams such as the Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets and the New England Patriots among others. For two UTEP Miners, it was the second opportunity within the past week.
“I feel like this and the Combine really helped out my stock a lot,” said running back Aaron Jones said, “Going into the Combine, not a lot of people knew about me and I tested well out there.”
“The NFL Combine and Pro Day was a great experience,” said tight end Hayden Plinke, “I was just out here competing and I just wanted to prove to the coaches that I’m one of the hardest workers and that I’m a good teammate. It’s just playing football and having a great time. It’s been a fun process.”
Both Jones and Plinke received an invitation to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this past week and each relished the opportunity to show off their individual talents with some of the other top college players in the country. Both ran the 40-yard dash, caught passes and ran position-specific drills.
Jones unofficially ran a 4.57 40, compared to a 4.56 official result from Indianapolis. A member of the UTEP athletic staff timed Jones at a 4.48. As he ran position-specific drills and caught some passes, he believes he’s in a good place.
“I wanted to run a better 40, caught every ball, and did well with the running back drills so I was happy with all of that,” he said following his workouts, “I feel like I accomplished everything I set out to do.”
Jones currently has private workouts set up with the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers.
As for Plinke, he wanted to improve the way he ran his 40-yard dash. He finished at a 4.95, but looked more fluid starting out than he did in Indianapolis. Like Jones, he wanted to show off what he could do one more time.
“I just took the same approach as I did with the NFL Combine,” he said, “I know I have a lot of stuff to work on with routes and getting better, but I’m just happy to be out here.”
This time around, both former Miners had the opportunity to work with several familiar faces. Some of their UTEP teammates also spent Thursday working out in front of scouts, including tight end Kent Taylor and wide receiver Cole Freytag.
Freytag, an El Paso native and Coronado High graduate, impressed with an unofficial 4.55 40-yard dash and showed a good range of motion catching the ball. He hasn’t gotten the same amount of attention as another local in Jones, but he felt the boost from him and the rest of his teammates.
“I felt like we all fed off of each other today,” Freytag said, “I thought everyone ran really well and we gave each other a lot of confidence and it was just an awesome day overall.”
As each player goes on their way in preparing for the NFL Draft and beyond, they’re already embracing the experience and are ready to face whatever lies ahead.
“You train for two months and then it’s a two or three-hour deal and it’s over,” Freytag said, “You just got to leave it all on the field.”
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