2024 NFL Draft Prospects Shine At UCLA Football Pro Day Event

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

On a bright and sunny Friday, UCLA Football held their Pro Day for their 2024 draft prospects. It was a day where dreams could edge closer to reality for 12 hopeful UCLA Bruins, each one eager to showcase their skills to the watchful eyes of NFL scouts. The Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, along with representatives from nearly every NFL team, gathered at Spaulding Field, signaling a day of immense opportunity for these athletes.

Laiatu Latu found himself in the spotlight, attracting the attention of reporters and scouts. After recovering from a career-threatening neck injury that forced him to retire at Washington, Latu’s journey to this point has been nothing short of amazing. Now, he is on the verge of being UCLA’s first first-round draft choice since 2018, a monument to his perseverance and unwavering desire to return to the game he loves.

2024 NFL Draft Prospects Shine At UCLA Football Pro Day Event

Latu’s performance at the NFL Scouting Combine had already garnered attention, but on this day, he sought to highlight even more of his strengths, specifically his adaptability in pass coverage — a quality that may make him essential to NFL teams. I spoke with him after the showcase and asked him about his versatility while meeting with teams and whether or not they wanted him at a single position to which he noted that they just want him getting after quarterbacks in whatever way possible.

Deshaun Foster, the UCLA football coach, who recently stepped into his role with a rich history at UCLA both as a player and a coach, watched on with pride. His advice to his players was simple yet profound: embrace the excitement of this moment. This was a culmination of their hard work, and they were ready.

But Latu wasn’t the only Bruin under the spotlight. Alex Johnson, a defensive back, dazzled with a 40-yard dash that unofficially clocked in at 4.4 seconds, a feat that didn’t just showcase his speed but his determination to rise above the nerves that had threatened to hold him back.

Carl Jones Jr., with a 4.5-second sprint, and both Grayson Murphy and Carson Steele, who each achieved a 37-inch vertical jump, also made their marks, proving that UCLA’s talent pool runs deep.

Beyond the drills and the physical feats, the Pro Day was a moment of unity and nostalgia. It saw the return of UCLA alumni, NFL players who once stood where these young athletes stood, offering not just support but a tangible connection to the dreams these players are chasing.

Figures like Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Zach Charbonnet, and Greg Dulcich weren’t just spectators; they were reminders of what’s possible, embodiments of the belief that hard work here can lead to Sundays in the NFL.

There was something almost familial about the day. Foster’s sentiment that once you’re a Bruin, you’re always a Bruin, was evident in the laughter and ease with which past and present players interacted, a communal bond as Bruins.