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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, April 05, 2018 1:00 am

Ferrer displays arm for scouts

Ex-teammate also at Ball State pro day

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

MUNCIE – Two of the key players from Saint Francis, which has won back-to-back NAIA national championships, worked out for NFL scouts Wednesday at Ball State, looking to make an impression ahead of this month's draft.

Wide receiver Seth Coate and quarterback Nick Ferrer, a tandem that connected for 180 yards and three touchdowns in the 2016 title game victory, showcased their connection at Ball State's pro day, alongside nine Cardinals and three other players from local colleges.

It was the second pro day for Coate, who graduated in 2017 and spent part of last summer at the Arizona Cardinals rookie mini camp but did not make the team. He said the familiarity with the setup of the event helped him improve his performance.

“I was able to calm my nerves a little bit and also help Nick (Ferrer) a little bit because obviously it's his first go-around,” said the former Homestead receiver, who set an NAIA record with 25 touchdown receptions in 2016. “If your quarterback's not on cue, he'll throw up a couple things you don't need.”

Ferrer and Franklin's Chase Burton were the two quarterbacks at the event, throwing a variety of routes to the assembled receivers, including Coate and Manchester's Dakota Nelson. Ferrer had the stronger arm of the two and when he missed it was mostly due to overthrows. His passes up the middle were almost all on target, while he had more incompletions on routes to the sideline.

It was the first pro day for the two-time NAIA champion quarterback and 2017 NAIA Player of the Year, who threw a school-record 136 touchdown passes in his Saint Francis career. He said he thought his performance went “really well” and there had been a couple of NFL teams that had reached out to him during the pre-draft process.

“It feels great (to represent Saint Francis),” Ferrer said. “It's great for the legacy that we've built at Saint Francis; we have very talented guys and being able to showcase that, I'm sure we'll have guys for years to come that will be at pro days.”

Coate unofficially caught all but one ball thrown in his direction, but he said the most important part of his day was getting to run the 40-yard dash again. The sprint was an area in which he wanted to improve this year after not being at full strength at the 2017 pro day.

“Last year at this point, I was pretty beat up. We played 14 games, so it's nice coming off a full year of recovery,” he said. “The toughest part was being mentally strong. I know it sounds a little odd, but you have a year off and you're not really sure what you're going to do with your life, it's hard to get back in the weight room and find that drive.”

Nelson, who recently finished his senior season at Manchester, made some of the most acrobatic catches at the event and registered a 30-inch vertical jump in the measurables' portion. He said thought he hit his ceiling at the pro day.

“I've always had a chip on my shoulder, whether it be against other small schools or against other guys out here that are bigger guys or faster guys,” said Nelson, who has had a few tryouts with Canadian football teams. “I just know that I can go out there and do the same things they can do. It's a football and I know how to catch it.”

The top NFL prospect at the Ball State pro day was Cardinals defensive end Anthony Winbush, who was invited to the NFL combine and is a projected late-round draft selection. His most impressive performance was on the bench press, where he lifted 225 pounds 29 times.

The pro day agility testing was important for Winbush because he pulled his hamstring and couldn't do some of the drills at the combine.

dsinn@jg.net