PULLMAN – Jeff Tuel spent six weeks in Orlando, Fla., recently, living and training with former teammate Marquess Wilson and former Eastern Washington receivers Brandon Kaufman and Greg Herd.
The time spent training under Tom Shaw, a heralded speed and performance coach, is starting to pay off. So are his new friendships.
Tuel told reporters after Thursday’s workout that he was clocked at 4.55 seconds in the 40-yard dash, an impressive time for a quarterback. And he brought in friends Kaufman and Herd – along with former Cougars Andrei Lintz, Carl Winston, Phillip Brandt, Isiah Barton and Adam Coerper – to catch passes during a scripted throwing session before a group of 10 or so NFL scouts.
Tuel didn’t miss any throws, connecting on slants, deep routes and others in between. His throws drew audible praise from a thin crowd of former teammates inside WSU’s indoor practice facility.
The emphasis of his throws: proving he can come up from under center, take a five-step drop and deliver “anticipation” throws to a particular spot.
That’s not something he did much in college, working out of two different offenses that both implemented the shotgun and more of a quick-throw regimen.
“Just some down-the-field throws that I can throw on time, get my fifth step and just get the ball out, and just really show that I can perform under center,” Tuel said, asked what he wanted to prove to scouts.
The former WSU quarterback had planned to throw in Cheney on Wednesday during Eastern Washington’s pro day, but an NFL rule prevents players from larger schools participating at pro days at schools in lower classifications.
The change of plans didn’t seem a detriment. At present, Tuel has one team visit lined up – with Buffalo – and his agent, Cameron Foster, said Tuel’s performance at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in mid-January helped his draft stock.
Tuel completed all eight of his pass attempts that day for 64 yards and a touchdown.
“Since that game, NFL teams have taken notice,” Foster said. “Jeff’s a great kid and a great football player and given the right opportunity, I think he could play in the NFL for a very long time.”
“I’m trying to just work my way up, climb the ladder and just get on someone’s board and get a team to fall in love with me and draft me,” Tuel said.
He’s not the only one. The most impressive individual effort on Thursday may have come from Brandt, an unheralded walk-on who bounced back and forth between running back and linebacker last season.
He got everyone’s attention by benching 225 pounds 39 times, a total that would have topped any of this year’s participants at the NFL combine. The top bench mark there was 38.
Brandt said teammates often rib him about his prowess on the bench press, though he insists that he works out his legs just as often.
He’s hoping to attract the attention of a next-level team, whether in the NFL, the Canadian Football League, the Arena Football League or elsewhere.
Wade Jacobson, an offensive lineman, surprised some in attendance by recording a 38-inch vertical leap. He said he’s heard from “a handful” of NFL teams recently. Jacobson’s performance at the Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game got him a little more attention.
“A lot of people didn’t expect that (vertical jump) probably from a lineman,” Jacobson said. “I was feeling good and knew what I was going to hit, and I just came out here and hit it.”
Other participants at WSU’s senior day included defensive backs Daniel Simmons and Tyree Toomer, former running back Logwone Mitz and Barton. Spokane native Travis Long, who suffered a knee injury in November that required surgery, was in attendance but didn’t participate.
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