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Former Longhorns help themselves with strong testing at Texas Pro Day

Joseph Ossai and Sam Cosmi bolstered their NFL draft stock thanks to impressive testing results on Thursday.

Sam Ehlinger at the Texas Pro Day
Texas football

With the NFL Combine canceled this year, former Texas Longhorns players preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft had their only opportunity to impress NFL scouts on Thursday at the school’s Pro Day.

Multiple Texas players helped themselves with strong testing numbers. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who has been trying to overcome question marks about his arm strength, cited an 11-foot broad jump by edge rusher Joseph Ossai, offensive tackle Sam Cosmi running a 4.8 40-yard dash, and a 42-inch vertical by safety Caden Sterns’ 42-inch vertical as the most impressive things he saw at the Pro Day.

Generally considered a likely second-round draft pick with the potential to sneak into the last part of the first round, Ossai helped his stock by proving that his athleticism is as impressive as the non-stop motor he shows on film — Ossai also posted a 41.5-inch vertical leap and a 4.63 40-yard dash at 6’3.5, 256 pounds.

Ossai is attempting to become the first Texas edge rusher drafted in the first round since Brian Orakpo in 2009.

“I don’t want to speculate but if we can get that and make it happen, it’d be an awesome accomplishment, but I’m just taking it day by day, hopefully I keep wowing these coaches and keep showing them I can ball and I want to ball,” Ossai told NFL Network.

To this point in the draft process, Ossai’s been taking a low-key approach pitching his ability to NFL organizations.

“I don’t think I’m selling anything but me and my passion for the game,” Ossai said in a Zoom meeting with reporters. “If they draft me, they’ll see that, and I think you can tell with my film.”

Like Ossai, Cosmi is also a likely second-round pick, although concerns about whether he can play left tackle in the league reduce the possibility he could work his way into the first round. But to the extent that Cosmi could help himself on Thursday, he did, pairing the athleticism he put on film with his strong 40-yard dash time with strength, putting up 36 reps on the bench press.

“It shows I’m strong, powerful, explosive and I’m quick,” he said.

Cosmi is set to become just the second Longhorns offensive lineman drafted since Tony Hills in 2008, joining second-round pick Connor Williams in 2018. There’s a chance Cosmi could go higher than the 50th pick, and that’s a goal that he embraces.

“From a competitive standpoint, I want to be drafted as high as possible,” Cosmi said. “That’s my mentality — I’m blessed to have the opportunity to go to the NFL. I want to be considered the best tackle and I think I am the best tackle.”

In preparation for the draft, Cosmi has been training with former San Francisco 49ers tackle Joe Staley.

“Just being able to be there, get that inside scoop, and train with him has been really, really special, and really beneficial for my game,” Cosmi said.

After battling injuries and struggling over his sophomore and junior seasons, Sterns helped answer question marks about his athleticism with a 4.4 40-yard dash and a 4.16 shuttle. Criticism he’s received for not matching the production from his freshman season has left Sterns with something to prove.

“I promise you, I’ll be the steal of the NFL Draft,” Sterns said.

Wide receiver Brennan Eagles also ran well with a 4.55 40-yard dash. Wide receiver Tarik Black and safety Chris Brown both recorded 4.53 40s, with Brown posting a 4.2 shuttle. Black also registered a 40-inch vertical leap and an 11-foot broad jump.

Ehlinger has been training to answer questions about his arm strength and anticipation. “I’m not sure there’s much question there” anymore, Ehlinger said of his pre-draft improvement in those areas.

“Really focusing on my body and mobility, flexibility, things like that to really open up and throw the ball and continue to progress every single time that they get the chance to watch me work out,” Ehlinger told NFL Network.

After taking two snaps under center in college, Ehlinger has also put in time on his five-step and seven-step drops so his footwork is ready for an NFL offense.

Ehlinger recorded a 36.5-inch vertical leap and ran in the 4.80s in the 40-yard dash.

The 2021 NFL Draft runs from April 29 to May 1.