EVANSTON, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)–We all look forward to the NFL Draft with anticipation each year. One Freeport man is especially interested this year, because he could be selected. He’s Zeke Vandenburgh. Tuesday was this former Pretzel’s shot to perform in front of NFL scouts at Northwestern’s Pro Day.
Pads and a helmet weren’t necessary for this event. This was all about Vandenburgh showing off his speed, his quickness, and his lateral movement, all with NFL scouts watching inside Northwestern’s mammoth Ryan Fieldhouse.
“It’s not necessarily stressful just because you look forward to this your whole life you know, but it’s definitely training for the Underwear Olympics,” said Vandenburgh. “It’s not like training for a football player.”
Vandenburgh did his weightlifting and his jumping drills at Illinois State’s Pro Day last week where he played for the Redbirds. He wanted to do his running and movement drills at Northwestern because of its indoor facility and turf.
“I thought it went well. It was good to get in front of all 32 teams, and I thought I put together a good day. It’s just all in God’s hands at this point.”
Vandenburgh had an eye-popping final season playing linebacker for Illinois State last fall. He won the Buck Buchanan Award as the best defensive player in the nation in the Football Championship Subdivision for Division One. His 14 sacks led the FCS, and his 21 tackles-for-loss were the second most in the nation. He provided NFL scouts with a lot of great film, but Vandenburgh knows that they still want to see what he can do in these Pro Day situations.
“You just hope that you check all the boxes in this process, so that they can look at your film and say the numbers validate the film and judge you based on your film, because even if you have a great year you can have some red flags in your testing in terms of you’re not very athletic. Then you can just be a great college player and your game won’t translate. It’s really nice to have film to validate me as a player, that they can always base my draft stock off of that.”
What type of player could Vandenburgh be at the NFL level?
“I think I put a great effort. Explosive off the ball. I play physical football, and I think I’ve got a great knack for where the ball is going to be and a great football IQ where I can decipher offenses and know what’s coming before it comes.”
“I’ve always had this dream, and I’ve always believed in myself. I have a lot of people around me that believe in me.”
Vandenburgh was taken in the recent USFL Draft by the Birmingham Stallions, but he says the USFL is only a fallback plan at the moment.
Vandenburgh has a lot on his plate right now. He’s getting married this Saturday.