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Pro Day Beckons for Three Mountain Hawks

When you're a 6'4, 280 lb offensive tackle in college, the three letters "NFL" don't usually enter your thought process.

Unless, of course, you're senior OT Troy McKenna.

When many players at all levels of football were hanging up their cleats for good after the season, Lehigh's FCS All-American tackle never stopped working to pursue a dream - making it to the NFL.

As a tight end.

The dream of making an NFL training camp continues for three former Lehigh football players tomorrow with a Pro Day at the University: McKenna, QB Chris Lum, and WR Jake Drwal.

All three athletes have basically not stopped with their training since the season ended with a 24-7 defeat to the eventual national champion North Dakota State Bison.

The All-American offensive lineman for the Mountain Hawks, almost immediately after the game in the FargoDome, put together a highlight reel, and "sent an email to pretty much every agent I could contact," he told me, where he connected with the agency who set him up with the regional combine invite.

"After our season was over I begun training right away [for the NFL]," he told me.  "It has been very stressful because you have to consistently perform and workout at a high level.  I travel to and from Lehigh to train with my athletic trainer, and on Sundays I train with ex-NFL WR Khamal Roy.  I spend about five days each week doing some form of catching."

It helps that Troy enjoys the training aspect of football.

"Its something I really enjoy doing. Some people view it as a chore or a hassle, but it's the best part of my day," he said.

His first taste of combines came at a collegiate showcase in Ohio.

"There for first time I strapped on pads and went against linebackers in pass coverage," he said.  "It was a great experience and I did very well.  I dominated in the blocking drills and that's what I think is going to land me in an NFL camp. My blocking abilities far surpass that of any tight end in my mind."

The NFL Regional Combine was held at the Jets Training facility in Florham Park, NJ, where "over 225 entrants from different backgrounds" get a chance to work out in front of some NFL personnel and get their workout numbers out there.  Troy and QB Chris Lum were two of the players that went.

While neither Chris nor Troy got a precious invite to go to the Super Regional in Detroit, Michigan, plenty of agents still took notice - as did the NFL Network.

"I got interviewed by the NFL Network afterwards," Troy said.  "I had the fastest numbers of all the tight ends and did really well running routes and catching the ball.  There were about thirty tight ends, but I had the fastest times."

"I thought it went really well," Chris told me, "and I was happy with my testing results.  I thought I threw the ball well."

Chris' journey, like Troy's, took him to the NFL combine and some other assorted combines in the area - and he's seen his stock rise after every combine he's attended.

“Those are really good for me being in front of NFL scouts,” Chris told Michael LoRe of the Express-Times earlier this month.   “That will tell a lot and hopefully I get a lot of good interest in me. Coming from a smaller school and I’m not such a big name, I have to get my name out there and hopefully turn some heads.”

After the NFL-sponsored combine, it's been a regimen of continued workouts for all three athletes, the occasional Pro Day - and in the case of WR Jake Drwal, a strict diet.

"Been training here with our strength coach Eric Markovcy for the past ten weeks," he told me, "and I'm on a very strict diet. No fast food. Only chicken and turkey and mostly asparagus and sweet potatoes and brown rice."

Jake is especially looking forward to showing off his 40 yard dash speed and performance on the agility drills - two aspect of his training which he emphasized in the weeks since the end of the season.

"I have been a consistent pass catcher here proving my strength and toughness," he said, "but now I need to put up some good numbers tomorrow.  I've been working on more speed and quick movement training so I do not get too bulky, but still implementing strength to train for the bench test.  It is an opportunity of a lifetime, and I have put everything I have into preparing for it."

Anyone seeing Jake catch countless passes over the middle from Chris over the course of last season - and taking the punishment - couldn't possibly argue.

Part of Jake's training regimen is catching passes from Chris on a regular basis - about four times a week.

Tomorrow morning that training will be showcased in front of at least ten different NFL scouts, as well as several different local athletes from other schools whom also have the same NFL dream.

Last year, Lehigh hosted a Pro Day to showcase the talents of Will Rackley, now a starting guard for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, so all of them have seen what a pro day is all about.

Troy is going into this job interview tomorrow with a lot of confidence.

"Playing football for so long you really learn to trust yourself and your abilities when it comes time to perform," he said.  Confidence is your best weapon along with extreme mental focus.  And I've tested well before in the past, I just have to do it one more time.

"I learn so much every week that I'm training as a tight end. I feel up to this point I've done a good job and my potential upside is even greater.  I'm just really excited to perform in front of pro teams and show them my ability to catch the ball."

"Been waiting for this day for a long time,"  Jake said.  "Put in a lot of preparation and work in to peak tomorrow."

“Hopefully these scouts realize that and take a look at our film and the performances we’ve had at Lehigh the last few years,” Lum said earlier this month. “The future is pretty uncertain, but it’s a very exciting time.  I’m taking it all in. One day at a time.”


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