Holy Cross Football Stars Shine at Pro Day

Ben Lepper ‘25

Chief Sports Editor

Holy Cross Football Courtesy of Joe Sullivan Photography

Just over a month ago, Crusader football stars Liam Anderson, Peter Oliver, John Smith, and Derek Ng participated in Holy Cross’ second annual Pro Day. The four were joined by other NFL prospects from neighboring schools, such as Merrimack, Brown, and UNH. In addition, numerous NFL scouts for teams including the Patriots, Packers, Chiefs, and Chargers were in attendance, as well as player agents, coaches, teammates, reporters, and even a CFL scout representing the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The energy at the Hart Center was electric, and with Draft season right around the corner, now seems like a good time to take a look back at what went down there on March 23rd.

After weighing in, the prospects first participated in the bench press drill. Anderson’s performance was the best of the Crusaders, getting 20 reps on the 225 pound bar. OIiver got 15 reps, while Smith turned some heads with his 18 reps. For a player weighing in at 191 pounds, that is seriously impressive. Ng did not participate in any strength or positional drills. Instead, he kicked for all of the scouts in attendance at the showcase’s conclusion.

Next up was the vertical. Anderson put up an impressive 33.5 inches, while Smith hit 32.5. But, the true star of the vertical was Oliver, who flew with a 36 inch first attempt, and only improved on his second, ending the day with a 37.5 inch vertical. “Mike Boyle and Pat Stefanski, the guys I was training with, helped me so much,” Oliver told The Spire. “The way that they trained and the consistency and the way that they had me going, it was awesome.”

After this, the prospects moved to the practice field, where they participated in the broad jump. While Smith and Oliver put up solid efforts of 9’8” and 10’3”, the show-stopping performance belonged to Anderson. His superhuman 10’8” would have ranked second among all linebackers at the NFL Combine, only behind Louisville’s Yasir Abdullah. 

“Honestly, wasn’t expecting that,” Anderson said. “The furthest I had jumped prior to that was, like, a 10’3”. So, I shocked myself a little bit. I guess that was just the adrenaline of the event, but, I’m pretty happy with it.” Adrenaline or not, Anderson’s broad jump alone caused some murmurs among the scouts in the room, and one can only assume that this caused his name to shoot up a few draft boards.

Next up was the 40-yard dash, where Oliver ran an official 4.69. Smith, on the other hand, ran a blazing unofficial 4.44, which would then be corrected to a 4.50. Immediately upon Smith’s completion, coaches throughout the room began to clap, and the excitement only continued to grow as Smith’s former teammates found out his unofficial time. 

“Throughout my entire career, I’ve always been labeled as not the fastest guy,” said Smith. “It’s totally understandable. But, knowing what had to be done, and knowing what was a question mark in my playing ability, running fast was very important. So, during my training, it’s one of the things I really focused on. I knew I had to run fast to get my foot in the door.”

Anderson did not run the 40 on Pro Day due to hamstring tightness, but ran it ten days later, recording an official 4.55. Anderson did participate in the positional drills along with Oliver, while Smith sat out. Some non-Crusader players also began to shine during these drills, with two of the best visitors being UNH wide receiver Sean Coyne and Merrimack’s Anthony Witherstone, a defensive back. Coyne made some impressive catches in the throwing drills, while Witherstone repeatedly looked like one of the most NFL-ready prospects in the room.

After these drills, Pro Day had concluded. When asked about his experience, Smith told The Spire that he thought it went really well. “I think it was a special day here for Holy Cross, to have NFL scouts come here. It was special for all the athletes not only at our school, but at surrounding schools, just to be getting this opportunity to chase their dreams. It was really special.” Smith plans to spend the rest of the time before the Draft staying in shape, preparing for minicamps, and ultimately waiting for a phone call.

While we won’t know any landing spots until the last weekend of April, we can be certain that the road will not end here for John, Liam, Peter, and Derek. I think I speak for the entire Holy Cross community when I say best of luck, and we’ll support you no matter what happens next weekend.

The NFL Draft will take place from April 28th to April 30th on ESPN and NFL Network.

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