INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts practice facility was busy with workouts on Wednesday afternoon but it wasn’t with the players you would expect.
Instead, 10 local college prospects got an opportunity of a lifetime in front of Colts personnel and coaches.
NFL rules allows for each NFL team to a host a local combine that includes prospects within a restricted area, which falls within the Rand McNally Map.
Wednesday’s combine included former area high school stars Morgan Newton (Carmel High School and the University of Kentucky) and MarQueis Gray (Ben Davis High School and the University of Minnesota).
“There’s such good high school football here,” Colts Director of College Scouting T.J. McCreight said. “I’m new to the area and that’s the one things I’ve noticed. There’s some good players so we have some guys that we’ve brought in that are seniors and are draft eligible that we wanted to get another look at.”
The Colts have had a strong recent history of scouring every avenue in trying to find NFL talent.
With three players from the NAIA National Champion Marian Knights and another two from Division II University of Indianapolis in attendance Wednesday, the local combine is just another indication of the Colts scouting department’s willingness to search for that hidden gem.
“We don’t leave a stone unturned. We want to look at all the guys,” McCreight said. “All of these players have been scouted by our scouts. They’ve all been evaluated, watched on tape, watched at practice. Here it just gives us another opportunity for our coaches to see them and go through some different drills that maybe they didn’t do before. It just gives us one more look at these guys.”
Newton, the 2009 Indiana Mr. Football, made the trip up from Lexington to showcase his quarterback skills.
This wasn’t the first time that Newton had been to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center and while he admitted there were some early jitters, the former IHSAA State Champion quarterback was happy to be back in a familiar place.
“I’ve been a Colts fan my whole life and I’ve been able to workout here in this complex a couple of times in high school so it’s always fun. It feels like home,” Newton said.
For a player like Gray, the past few months have been hectic trying to balance school and having to train for three different possible positions at the next level.
The dual-threat quarterback spent some time at receiver during his playing career at Minnesota but his future position is a bit foreign to the Ben Davis product.
Since the Gophers season came to an end last fall, Gray has been working with a familiar face to Colts fans in helping make the transition to tight end.
“Fortunately I’ve had Ben Utecht, who played for the Colts (2004-2007) in recent years and he went to the University of Minnesota so he was gracious enough to come back to school and help me with my blocking technique,” Grey said.
“It’s hard because I’ve never had to put my hand in the dirt since pee wee. It’s just another sacrifice I’m going to have to make to make sure my family has a financial background set and I’m willing to make that change and I’m willing to make sure I do whatever I have to do to make someone’s roster.”
Trying to complete a 90-man roster is a task that every NFL team faces over the next month.
Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson and Head Coach Chuck Pagano watched intently on Wednesday afternoon knowing that any one of these prospects could be the next
“We’ve spent the past nine months trying to find football players. We’ve got about a week left and we’ve done everything,” McCreight said.
“Like I just told the players before they started working out, ‘I’ve had guys from these local days that have not only been invited to camp but have made the team.’ It’s not unrealistic and there could be a couple of these guys that are with us (at training camp), maybe one, maybe two, maybe three.”
Max Davis OLB, University of Indianapolis, Cathedral High School, Indianapolis, IN
Brody Dixon OT, Marian University, East Noble High School, Kendallville, IN
Mar'quone Edmonds WO, University of Indianapolis, Waukegan, IL
MarQueis Gray QB/WO, University of Minnesota, Ben Davis High School, Indianapolis, IN
Nate Jones TE, Marian University, Forest Park High School, Ferdinand, IN
Mike Josifovski PK, Marian University, Hobart High School, Hobart, IN
Cory Kemps PK, Nicholls State, Carmel High School, Carmel, IN
Robert Maci OLB, Purdue University, Cathedral High School, Fishers, IN
Morgan Newton QB, University of Kentucky, Carmel High School, Carmel, IN
Tyrone Walker WR, Illinois State, Ritter High School, Indianapolis, IN