Friday, March 26, 2010

Hoomanawanui Builds on Favorable Impression

It was like American Idol for Illini football players Wednesday.

A big stage, a live crowd including friends and family and a panel of judges taking notes.

It was "Pro Day," where Illini senior football players were weighed, measured, tested and, in some cases interviewed, by a big group of NFL scouts and personnel people.

In some cases, players have been known to make lots of money at these showcases by posting fast running times, demonstrating surprising strength during bench press drills or by flashing unexpected talent in position drills.

Others have lost money, dropping on the draft charts because their "measureables" did not match preconceived notions.

For tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, it was a chance to build on a favorable impression he'd already made at the Combine.

Hoomanawanui bench pressed 225 pounds 25 times at the Combine, third best among tight end prospects. He did not run, however, due to a pulled quad muscle he sustained at the Senior Bowl.

On Wednesday, Hoomanawanui, who weighed in at 263 pounds, ran the 40 in 4.83 seconds and showed well in pass-catching drills.

"Today was good," he said. "There are a lot of guys who wish they were doing what we are. I felt good and I thought I did a good job."

Today he holds a private workout for the Cleveland Browns. Upcoming are workouts for the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens and Buffalo Bills.

So where does he think he stands in the big-picture draft?

"It gets more confusing as you go," he said. "I've talked to my agent and I want to know. My mom wants to know. My dad wants to know.

"All of it is part of the experience and I'm going to take it and enjoy it. If I get drafted, I get drafted. If I go free agent, I go free agent. All I want is a shot. Put me on a team. I don't care where it is, I'll work my way in."

Hoomanawanui said he has talked with former Illini players like Decatur's Brit Miller and J Leman, who were undrafted free agents, and they told him to hang in there, stay on his toes and do his best. The rest will take care of itself.

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