While most of the excitement coming out of CU this winter has been centered around Coach Prime and the new-look Buffs, at least 17 NFL teams were represented in Boulder for the University of Colorado’s 31st annual pro day.
Nine former Buffs along with one former Western Colorado Mountaineer participated in last Wednesday’s pro day with hopes of taking their talents to the NFL and continuing their football careers.
It was a solid showing from all participants however four players stood out from the rest.
A former walk-on turned team captain, Brady Russell’s dedication and passion for Colorado Buffaloes football made him a fan favorite throughout his five years in Boulder.
Colorado’s passing game struggled throughout 2022 meaning Russell’s opportunities to show his ability as a passing threat were limited. Despite only having 20 receptions for 153 yards and no touchdowns, Russell earned himself an invite to the 2023 NFLPA College Bowl where he was a standout player.
While in Pasadena for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, Russell’s versatility shined as he had reps at tight end, h-back, full back, out of the slot and long snapper.
“That’s probably my biggest selling point I tell teams is I think I’m the most versatile guy in the draft,” Russell said after his pro day workout. “[My versatility] is the biggest thing I bring to the table, there are not many tight ends that can do that.”
Russell had the advantage of having his uncle, Matt Russell, in attendance for his workout. Matt Russell is now a Senior Personnel Executive for the Philadelphia Eagles but filled multiple front-office roles for the Denver Broncos from 2009-2020.
“He’s helped me a lot, he just gave me feedback right now,” Russell said. “It was very positive, I felt good about where I’m at and he did, too.”
Russell put up 21 reps on the bench press, the most of any player at Wednesday’s pro day. He is Colorado’s highest-rated prospect entering next month’s NFL Draft.
Measuring 6-foot-4, 282 pounds with a wingspan of 82 and 3/4 inches, Terrance Lang was the most physically impressive and imposing player at CU’s pro day.
Listed as a defensive lineman, Lang participated in defensive bag drills during the on-field workout portion of the pro day but had the most impressive moment of any player during the entire workout when he started running routes and catching passes as a tight end.
“It was not part of my plan,” Lang said. “I didn’t come here with any idea that I was going to catch balls or run any routes, but they asked me to do it and I was able to do it.”
The last time Lang was asked to play tight end was over five years ago when he was playing football at Maranatha High School. Even though Lang’s focus was on the defensive side of the ball as a Buff, he drew multiple oohs and ahhs from the crowd as he was catching passes.
“I was told that for my size and athletic ability, I actually caught the ball pretty well,” Lang said when asked about the feedback he received from NFL scouts about his offensive workout.
Having played in 50 games dating back to 2018, Daniel Arias is the Colorado Buffaloes record holder for most games played by a wide receiver in a career.
Despite his offensive struggles throughout his career, Arias shined as a gunner and special teams player and leaves CU having forced the most fair catches of any player to have donned the black and gold.
On Wednesday, Arias measured in at 6-foot-3.5 and 208 pounds and was able to run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds. His combination of speed and size has always been his calling card and will be the reason he will draw interest from NFL teams this spring.
The only non-Buff to participate in Wednesday’s pro day, Darrious Gaines was a cornerback for the Western Colorado Mountaineers dating back to his redshirt freshman season in 2017.
Gaines had eight pass breakups in each of the last two seasons and added three interceptions with five tackles for a loss in 2022. He was recognized with Second-Team All-RMAC honors in 2022.
Although he has plenty of cornerback experience under his belt, Gaines sees himself playing safety at the next level.
“I’m the type of player to get in your face, I’m not afraid to hit people,” Gaines said. “I might be 193 pounds but I’m not afraid to get into the hole and hit people.”
He was the first player in Western Colorado history to be invited to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and continued to impress NFL talent evaluators at CU’s pro day. He measured in at 6-foot-1 and 193 pounds and ran the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds.