CINCINNATI — Brendon Kay hasn’t felt this good in forever. It’s easy to tell spending the last couple of months in South Florida has been good for the former Cincinnati Bearcat quarterback. There’s a definition to his muscles and a definition to his smile.
Kay was hurting when UC started preseason practices last July and he never got any better. He still played in all 13 games, starting 11 of them, despite a plethora of injuries that began with his throwing shoulder and came to include his chest, back and ankle.
Thursday was anything but painful for Kay. He ran, jumped and, most importantly, he threw the football in front of scouts and representatives from 17 different teams at UC’s pro day inside the Sheakley Athletics Center. Kay, who threw for 3,302 yards and 22 touchdowns last season, has had a long journey to Thursday.
He redshirted as a freshman in 2008. He missed the majority of the 2009 season because of a knee injury suffered during spring practice. He missed all of 2010 and saw action in just three games in 2011. The NCAA, which isn’t exactly the most forgiving of organizations, granted Kay a sixth year of eligibility because of his injury history.
All of that was way behind him Thursday.
"I really haven’t thought about it," said Kay after his day was completed. "I thought about it last year during the season and it is incredible to think about the road that it’s taken to get here. It makes it all that much more worth it. It’s more gratifying knowing all of the work that has gone into it and all of the people who have helped me all around."
Despite putting up some gaudy numbers the past two seasons at UC, including leaving as the most accurate passer in program history after completing 65.4 percent of his passes, and playing in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl all-star game in January, Kay didn’t receive an invitation to last month’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
That made Thursday all the more important for him and the other 18 players who worked out either in full or partially. UC didn’t have a single player at the combine.
Kay measured in at 6-3, 226 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash in an unofficial time of 4.63 seconds, had a broad jump of 10 feet, 1 inch, and a vertical leap of 34 inches. He clocked an unofficial time of 4.38 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle and 6.99 seconds in the 3-cone drill.
For a little perspective, Blake Bortles of Central Florida, who is expected to be drafted high in the first round, ran a 4.93 in the 40 at the combine. Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M was timed at 4.68. Now, Manziel was timed at a blistering 4.03 seconds in his 20-yard shuttle, which just goes to reiterate what anyone who has watched Manziel live or on tape already knows — he’s fast and quick.
The bottom line is that Kay helped himself on Thursday. He got a chance to put his abilities on display for NFL scouts. He got a chance to meet with teams, some of whom are going to like him a lot more now than they did on Wednesday. They’re going to go back and watch his film a little closer.
They’re going to find some impressive play.
"Most of the stuff I’m hearing is that I had full control of the offense," said Kay. "Most college quarterbacks don’t have full control over the offense as far as protections, audibles and stuff like that. A lot of scouts were happy to see that. We had a lot of variations of an NFL offense. That helped."
Thursday was similar to the UC pro day in 2007. No Bearcats were invited to the combine that year. Despite those snubs, tight end Brent Celek was selected by Philadelphia and cornerback John Bowie was taken in the fourth round by Oakland. Celek just completed his seventh season with the Eagles. He is a mainstay in the Eagles’ offense, having caught 312 passes for nearly 4,000 yards and 26 touchdowns in his career. He’s added another 26 catches for 251 yards and three touchdowns in six postseason games.