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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Halliday and Mayle perform for scouts

There were NFL 13 scouts on hand to watch Connor Halliday and Vince Mayle work out on Wednesday, and one general manager.

Scot McCloughlan, the general manager of the NFL team in Washington D.C., planned to be on hand for the second WSU pro day, but it's unclear if he actually made it out to Pullman. Still, there were plenty of representatives on hand to watch Halliday and Mayle perform, and it sounds like they saw what they needed to from both players.

Below is my story from pro day that will run in tomorrow's paper.
 

PULLMAN—Neither Connor Halliday nor Vince Mayle have had an easy journey from Washington State to the NFL so it was fitting that during a workout in front of NFL scouts and executives on Wednesday, the two former Cougars did it the hard way.

Such workouts are usually conducted indoors but because of poor lighting and worse turf in WSU's indoor practice bubble, Halliday and Mayle elected to stage the workout outside on the Rogers practice field.

That meant a little rain, plenty of wind and temperatures hovering just under 40 degrees.

"I've been doing this ever since I was a little kid," Halliday said. "I'm from Spokane, played football here. It doesn't affect me but it does affect the ball a little bit. It is what it is and every ball I threw I threw into the wind. So, hopefully the scouts appreciate that."

The two Cougars began on adjacent practice fields. Mayle running through a gauntlet of four sets of cones spaced exactly 10-yards apart while Halliday played catch with a quarterback that was never drafted but managed an 11-year NFL career.

Mayle, who has signed an endorsement deal with Adidas, wore exclusively his new brand's apparel: cleats, socks, shorts and a skin-tight shirt with the long sleeves rolled up, all a subtle reminder no doubt to the scouts that the 222-pound receiver's obvious strength is his greatest strength.

Halliday, not beholden by any contractual agreements, clashed a thick long-sleeve Under Armour top with black WSU shorts by Nike.

On hand for the workout was Jim Sharkey, who coached Halliday for two years at Ferris High, as well as former WSU football players Jason Gesser and Brandon Gibson.

Xavier Cooper was on hand and had a private workout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Halliday threw with an audience for the first time since his ankle was broken on Nov. 1 against USC. Mayle is still nursing a broken thumb that hampered him at the NFL combine.

"It's (still) pretty bad," Mayle said. "It's something I've got to play through."

After posting an uninspiring 4.67-second 40-yard dash at the combine, Mayle's biggest priority on Wednesday was showing the 13 scouts – including three receivers coaches – that he has the speed to outrun NFL defensive backs. He did so on his final attempt, clocking in unofficially at around 4.5 seconds.

"The time doesn’t really concern me that much," said CBS NFL draft analyst Rob Rang. "If he can run in the 4.5s, 4.6s at 222-pounds, I know he's got hops, I know he's got lateral agility to make people miss and I've been impressed by his work ethic. When he signed there were all these questions about his commitment to football and I think he's answered those questions."

Perhaps the biggest obstacles for Mayle are the numerous rising receivers in this year's draft class who are surprising scouts while he simply tries to get back to full strength.

Halliday threw 70 passes, completing all but six. All six incomplete passes were drops, yet the receivers also saved Halliday on a couple occasions by catching poorly thrown balls.

He threw passes to Mayle; former WSU running backs Marcus Mason and Theron West; former Eastern Washington receiver Cory Mitchell and former WSU receiver Jeffrey Solomon.

Conducting the workout was former Seahawks quarterback Jim Zorn, who coached Halliday's dad for two years at Boise State prior to his long career as an NFL coach and is now helping Connor Halliday prepare for the draft.

Zorn and Halliday reconnected recently at the Western Sports Star of the Year Awards, but Zorn first began scouting the quarterback as an NFL prospect a year ago.

"He came out to a spring practice out here around this time last year to see if I was worth a crap and thought I was alright," Halliday said. "He told me after my senior season that he wanted to work with me."

Halliday acknowledged after the workout that he still doesn't feel 100 percent – he's only been throwing for a couple weeks. But while both Cougars likely could have used a few more days of recovery, time is getting precious.

The NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 30 and ends the following Saturday, meaning that teams need to start paring down their lists of prospects. But at least, for now, Halliday and Mayle have their biggest tests behind them.

"I can say it's been pretty stressful but now that I've finally got my pro day over with I can just relax and work out," Mayle said. "A coach told me last night to just enjoy this time because it's the last time I can be careless, be free."

 



Jacob Thorpe
Jacob Thorpe joined The Spokesman-Review in 2013. He currently is a reporter for the Sports Desk covering Washington State University athletics.

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