With the NFL Draft a little more than three weeks away, eight Blue Devils showed off their skills Tuesday afternoon in hopes of elevating their draft stock.
Center Austin Davis, cornerback Bryon Fields Jr., defensive tackle Mike Ramsay and running back Shaun Wilson—all members of Duke's 2017 roster—took the field Tuesday at Pascal Field House in front of representatives from 25 NFL organizations. The players participated in a series of events to test their skillsets and athleticism, including a 40-yard dash, shuttle runs and numerous position-specific challenges like tackling and passing drills.
"I hear constantly from our coaches and scouts that come in just how well our guys work," Blue Devil head coach David Cutcliffe said. "They’ve gone about their business well. It makes me nervous. It’s fun to see their parents, but the best part of it is that all of them have degrees. That always makes it a lot of fun because they’re prepared for whatever falls their way."
In addition to the seniors, four former Duke players—running backs Jela Duncan and Quay Mann, punter Will Monday and quarterback Thomas Sirk—returned to campus to participate in the workouts, looking to advance to the next level.
Sirk was perhaps the most interesting of the players at the Blue Devils' Pro Day. The Glen St. Mary, Fla., native spent five years at Duke before closing out his college career at East Carolina last fall. Although Sirk led the Blue Devils to their first bowl victory in 54 years—Duke beat Indiana 44-41 in the Pinstripe bowl his redshirt junior year—the dual-threat quarterback’s college career was marred by injuries.
Sirk felt a need to prove to scouts that he can still compete at a high level after undergoing three surgeries for Achilles' tendon tears during his time as a Blue Devil.
"I want to prove to these guys that I’m healthy and to prove to myself that I can still do it," Sirk said. "I’m 24 years old now, and I came out here and I’ve been busting my butt for three months now, and it paid off. It truly did pay off, and I wasn’t sure how my times were going to be, but that didn’t matter to me as long as I got through them and showed my athleticism, showed that I can still play the game of football. I’m really grateful for that."
After participating solely in quarterback drills at East Carolina’s Pro Day Thursday, Sirk returned to Duke to show off his versatility, opting to do all the running drills in addition to running routes and catching passes as a receiver. Not known for his throwing arm, Sirk feels his 6-foot-4 frame may fit best at the tight end position at the next level.
"I’m just praying he gets that right opportunity," Cutcliffe said. "When I first started recruiting Thomas Sirk, it was based on receiver film. His junior year, he was a receiver at his high school and transitioned to quarterback, so his athleticism was the first thing that we noticed about him."
Several other former Blue Devils were also back on campus to help the eight men prepare for their workout Tuesday afternoon. Most notably, current Washington Redskin wideout Jamison Crowder and Sirk’s predecessor at quarterback Anthony Boone were present at pro day cheering on their former teammates, with Boone throwing passes to Sirk.
"There are a lot of things that make me happy about being here for 10 years," Cutcliffe said. "I think the thing that makes me most happy is seeing our guys come back and seeing the smiles on their faces. I don’t think it can get any better than that."
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Digital Strategy Director for Vol. 115, Michael was previously Sports Editor for Vol. 114 and Assistant Blue Zone Editor for Vol. 113. Michael is a senior majoring in Statistical Science and is interested in data analytics and using data to make insights.