When defensive back J.T. Wahee walked through the doors of the Scheumann Family Practice Center March 28 and saw scouts representing 16 National Football League (NFL) franchises, the realization set in.
“It’s turned into a goal,” Wahee said. “It’s not a dream anymore.”
Wahee dreamed of hearing his name called during the NFL Draft, and now, Wahee and 11 other Ball State Football alumni are one step closer to achieving that goal.
“It’s hit me a lot, like, this is a huge opportunity not a lot of people get,” outside linebacker Christian Albright said. “If I look back at my life, as a little 8-year-old kid playing ball, it’s crazy to see how far I’ve come, being able to come out here and showcase my abilities.”
Wahee and Albright worked out alongside defensive lineman Chris Agyemang, offensive lineman Curtis Blackwell, defensive back Bryce Cosby, kicker Jonathan Hagee, wide receivers Justin Hall and Hassan Littles, quarterback Drew Plitt, fullback Cody Rudy, punter Nathan Snyder and linebacker Jaylin Thomas. Plitt said he loved competing in drills with familiar targets in Hall, Littles and Rudy.
“We had to get reacquainted last week, but it was pretty quick to get back to where we were,” Plitt said. “It helps a lot, knowing their footwork, knowing what they’re doing, it was nice having everyone back.”
16 of the NFL’s 32 teams showed up to Muncie: the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Chargers, Indianapolis Colts, Washington Commanders, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, New York Jets, Green Bay Packers, Carolina Panthers, Las Vegas Raiders, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans. Thomas said he knew his hard work had paid off when he saw the different scouts.
“I got my family on my back, supporting me,” Thomas said. “It’s a great moment. It goes to show that all this hard work throughout these years has paid off. It’s a good feeling to be able to represent this university and my family as well.”
Multiple players said their preparation for Pro Day differed from college training, including Cosby, who said he concentrated a few hours on training instead of a full day, which he became accustomed to at Ball State.
“It’s very straight cut, as far as college goes,” Cosby said. “Your day is very planned out, whereas training, you’re training three to four hours, then you got the rest of the day to yourself.”
Littles spent the offseason in Georgia with his personal trainer practicing numerous drills and said his workout regimen was different than anything before.
“It’s been different,” Littles said. “We were doing different drills that I haven’t really done before, but I had a pretty good experience overall getting ready for the pro day.”
In the first drill, Wahee led the group of former Cardinals with a 10 feet, seven-inch broad jump. Cosby and Thomas each jumped 10 feet, four inches.
Hall recorded the fastest 40-yard dash with a 4.44 second unofficial time. Hall said he's been pushed in the offseason by training with several players from different Power Five and FBS schools and believes he can contribute at the NFL level.
“Why not?" Hall said. "That’s the real question. Why not?"
Ball State has had 29 players drafted in the NFL, including offensive lineman Danny Pinter, who was drafted with the 149th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. Blackwell, who played alongside Pinter at Ball State from 2017-19, has received tips from him about the draft process.
“You look at a guy like that, who you’ve actually played with, been there with you, and you see his success, it really gives you a boost of confidence,” Blackwell said. “Because now, you know it’s possible. You’ve seen him go and do it, and it just inspires you to go and continue that tradition.”
Agyemang spent two years with Ball State after spending 2016-19 at Sacred Heart University and believes the Cardinals have prepared him to become their 30th draft selection.
“I’ve only been here for two years, but it [Ball State] has done so much for me,” Agyemang said. “Being around a great caliber of guys, a great culture, it would mean a lot. Whether you get drafted or go undrafted, it gives you a great chance to sign with a mini-camp, NFL or CFL.”
Wahee also transferred to Ball State prior to its 2020 season after playing at Norfolk State University from 2017-19. Wahee expressed the same sentiment as Agyemang and is excited about the opportunity to be drafted.
“It would mean a lot,” Wahee said. “It would mean a lot to me, to the school, and to my family. It would help the school recruiting-wise. It shows that it can be done. It can be done at this school, at this level, at the Mid-American Conference. It would be a great feeling.”
Although several Ball State players might get overlooked, Thomas said "it's an honor" to represent Ball State and pursue a professional career. Cosby plans to embrace the underdog role he's grown into at Ball State and use it in the future.
“I don’t think that chip’s ever going to leave our shoulders,” Cosby said. “I feel like there’s always going to be naysayers when it comes to me. I pride myself on proving people wrong. That’s the biggest thing, just lean on the things that have gotten me to this point and just go from there.”
The 2022 NFL Draft is April 28-30.