COLLEGE PARK--With sets of eyes representing 24 NFL franchises looking on, plus more from teammates, media, and coaches, Maryland cornerback Dexter McDougle stepped up to the line to test his vertical jump at the program’s Pro Day on Tuesday in College Park.
This was McDougle’s physical debut, the culmination of seven months of rehab and recovery following surgery to repair a season-ending shoulder injury he suffered against Connecticut in September.
On a day that had to that point been about intense focus and individual achievement, he motioned his hands upward just as he used to do in front of stadiums full of people during his college career and implored his teammates to get involved.
“C’mon guys,” McDougle said loudly with a smirk. “All this cheering I did for y’all on that sideline, y’all better cheer for me now.”
McDougle would register a team-best 37-inch vertical on Tuesday, together with an unofficial 40-yard dash time of between 4.43 and 4.48 and a long jump of 10-feet, two inches. He did not participate in the bench press.
The tests, combined with position-specific drills, and it was by McDougle’s estimation as solid an outing as he could have hoped for in a public debut.
“They need to see me. They need to see me run and move again since my injury,” McDougle said of the NFL scouts. “I wasn’t really nervous. I’ve been preparing for this day so I was relaxed and confident. You get the little butterflies, but that’s the main thing.”
To prepare for the draft, McDougle has been working out in Boca Raton, Fla., with trainer Tony Villani. The list of clients who have worked out under Villani include Super Bowl-winning wide receiver Anquan Boldin, Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry, and Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon.
“He’s prepared. He’s done all the hard work. He’s put in all the time and effort,” head coach Randy Edsall said. “This is the job interview for him...All [he’s] got to do is impress one person today.”
McDougle plans to fly to California next week to meet with the Oakland Raiders. He says he has additional meetings scheduled with the New York Jets and New York Giants and gained new interest Tuesday from the Baltimore Ravens, saying that the in-state team expressed its desire to bring him in for a workout.
That would be the next step in what has been a long path back to the field for McDougle.
“I met with some teams today in the meeting rooms and they asked me if I like football or I love it. And I just told them, ‘Man, I’ve got a passion for this. I love football.’” he said. “There was a couple tears coming up because this is really my life. This is real. I’m trying to live my dreams.”