COLLEGE PARK, Md. — It is the job interview of a lifetime. Your potential employer: an NFL team.
"Literally that’s what it is. It is literally the biggest job interview," said tight end Chig Okonkwo. "It’s like we’re really living out your dream."
Okonkwo was one of a dozen prospects taking part in University of Maryland’s pro day on Wednesday. Okonkwo and fellow Terps teammate Nick Cross were the biggest names among the group trying to impress NFL talent evaluators who are getting ready for the upcoming draft. Both Okonkwo and Cross are expected to be selected in the second or third round of the draft.
"I know I’m going to get drafted in a comfortable spot. So, for me it’s like don’t sweat that," said Okonkwo.
"I have talked to probably a good majority of the league," added Cross, a defensive back. "I have talked to a lot. I’ve got a couple visits set up later. Teams are constantly calling you."
Both took part in the NFL Combine earlier this month and posted the fastest 40-yard dash times for their respective positions. They did not run the 40 on Wednesday while in front of 45 scouts from 29 different NFL teams. Canadian Football League teams were also represented.
Seven Terps and five other prospects from the area showcased their skills. Baltimore native and Calvert Hall grad Nijuel Hill, defensive back out of University of Delaware, was on the field.
"It’s a lot of nerves, kind of nerve-racking seeing all these NFL teams here. You’ve been dreaming to be in the NFL since you were a little kid," said Hill. "Just to be in front of all these scouts to try to perform to the best of your ability, it was good. It was a great experience."
The most unique prospect at Maryland’s pro day was one of the greatest Terps to ever wear a Maryland uniform. But he never wore one on a football field. Jared Bernhardt quarterbacked Ferris State to a Division II national championship last season. Before that he spent five years leading the Terps lacrosse team. He ended his career as the Maryland's all-time leader in goals and points. He won the 2021 Tewaaraton Award, which is the Heisman trophy of lacrosse. He participated on Wednesday as a wide receiver.
"It’s definitely a little weird because you have those memories of playing lacrosse and now you are doing a different sport," said Bernhardt. "Just like anything I do, I want to go and win. I want to go get on a team, obviously that’s the first thing, but [also] win a super bowl."
Don’t count him out.