Tryouts await standouts

By Matt Stacionis

Before a player can make it to The Show, he needs to give a final audition.

For NFL teams, that means they will tour college campuses, allowing players to throw everything out one last time. The Miami Dolphins stopped NIU last week, and the Chicago Bears are scheduled to show this week to test out NIU’s Buster Sampson, McAllister Collins and Jermaine Hampton.

“They pinpoint people they may have an interest in as late-round picks or free agents,” said NIU football coach Joe Novak. “It’s comparable to the combine. McAllister has a good chance to get a look.”

Among the tests, the 40-yard dash is often the one that attracts a large deal of attention from coaches, scouts and arm-chair draft analyzers. The sprint is perceived to be the most important test, but Novak said that it is often overplayed by scouts and coaches. He added that linemen may be tested in a 10-or-20-yard dash instead of the 40. Skilled players and receivers are judged more on the 40 time. This may play to the advantage of Collins, center, the only lineman of the group.

“I know a lot of pro teams will do more with the 20 and 10,” Novak said.

Ryan Diem and Justin McCareins were both invited to the NFL combine in Indianapolis, Ind., and are expected to be drafted. Sampson may be considered the dark horse of this year’s draft class but earned a slot through his play this season.

“Buster came on and was a little bit of surprise this year,” Novak said. “The others were getting a look coming into the season. Buster really came on strong, though.”

Novak said Cameron Saulsby, who is working on his internship in Florida, also drew the eye of scouts.

If Saulsby was still on campus, he would have been in the group. Novak said that he probably will work out at the University of Central Florida. He said the Dolphins expressed an interest in him.

Saulsby has been picked as a sixth-round pick by the Sporting News.