ORONO, Maine — It’s all about chasing your dream.
Nine former University of Maine football players underwent a variety of tests under the direction of New England Patriots scout Brian Smith during the annual Pro Day in the Latti Fitness Center and the Mahaney Dome.
The three-hour session was videotaped and will be accessible to the other NFL teams.
The day ended prematurely for North Yarmouth native Joe Fitzpatrick, who rushed for 1,509 yards and 12 touchdowns on 312 carries during his career that ended in 2019 but pulled a hamstring Monday during the 40-yard dash.
“I did great in everything. I had elite numbers,” said Fitzpatrick of his workouts before the injury. “What’s tough is I had to miss the 5-10-5 shuttle run and L-drill and those drills are my bread-and-butter.
“The good news is the Patriots scout said I can do those drills when I feel good, get them on film and send them out with the rest of my numbers,” said Fitzpatrick, who has been teaching at Gray-New Gloucester High School.
The session included the bench press, vertical jump and broad jump and agility drills like the 40-yard dash, the 5-10-5 shuttle run and the L-drill, which uses four cones in the shape of an L and measures how fast a player can change direction while accelerating.
In the 5-10-5 shuttle run, a player runs 5 yards to his right, 10 to his left and then 5 to his right.
Then the players did position-specific drills.
The test results will be released on Tuesday.
Two-time All-Colonial Athletic Association linebacker and sophomore All-American Deshawn Stevens returned to Orono after playing for Football Bowl Subdivision West Virginia this past season.
UMaine plays in the Football Championship Subdivision, which is one notch below the FBS.
“Today went well for the most part. There were some things I could have done better,” said the Toronto native, a former first round draft pick of the Canadian Football League’s Ottawa Redblacks.
Stevens played primarily on special teams for the Mountaineers and finished with 11 tackles in 12 games, nine of which were unassisted.
“It definitely opened up my eyes to where I am right now. I have to go out and work harder,” Stevens said. “But it was a good experience … the environment, the trainers, the game day atmosphere with 60,000 screaming fans.”
Ray Miller, an All-CAA second team linebacker after transferring to UMaine from Campbell University (North Carolina), was attending his second Pro Day after returning to Campbell for its Pro Day.
“Format-wise, the Pro Days were very similar. I felt like I had a great day and it could be even better when I get my numbers back,” Ray Miller said.
“I need to continue to work on my flexibility and mobility and improve my recovery process so that I’m still progressing while I’m recovering [from training].”
He said he doesn’t care what league he plays in: NFL, CFL or the new eight-team United States Football League that begins play on April 16.
“I’m open to everything. As long as I’m able to continue playing football, I’m grateful. I just have to take it one day at a time,” Ray Miller said.
All-CAA wide receivers Andre Miller from Old Town and Jaquan Blair ran a bunch of pass routes with former Old Town High School and Husson University quarterback Jake Jarvis throwing to them.
Jarvis was recruited by Andre Miller, his high school teammate, a month ago.
“Dre’s my brother. Whatever he needs,” said Jarvis, who said it was an “exciting” experience.
“I made a couple bad throws but I thought it went pretty well,” Jarvis said.
“To come in and throw when you haven’t played football in a couple of years and to throw in front of a scout and a bunch of people is hard to do. But he did a great job. We have a connection.”
Andre Miller said his day went well.
“I hit a lot of numbers I hit during training and I had a [personal record] in a few. That’s always good. You want to keep progressing,” he said. “I’m just looking for the best situation for myself to have success.”
He finished his UMaine career with 104 receptions for 1,848 yards and 14 TDs and Blair caught 134 passes for 1,692 yards and 13 TDs.
“We were supposed to have a Pro Day two years ago but it was canceled [by COVID-19],” said Blair. “So I was happy to have the opportunity to come out here today and perform. I have been trying to stay active and be ready if anything comes up.”
He has been working different jobs in his native Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Blair did attend Ottawa’s CFL training camp a year ago but was released.
All-CAA offensive lineman and Bucknell University transfer P.J. Barr said it was strange doing an offensive line drill on his own with new UMaine line coach Patrick Kugler without having other linemen involved.
“I’m very thankful to coach Kugler for running the drill with me. It was a lot of fun. I’m hoping I get a chance to play but I also want to be a coach. I’m not leaving football any time soon,” he said.
Other players involved in Pro Day were linebacker Taji Lowe and cornerbacks Katley Joseph and Shaquille St-Lot.