Wentland Pressing On With NFL Goal


At McKendree University A.J. Wentland was one of the top NCAA Divison II players in the country. He set schools records for tackles from his middle linebacker spot.  His senior year he was second in the country in tackles per game.

“I’ve been a football player my whole life and it’s something I’ve always excelled in and something I’ve always taken seriously,” says the Harlem High School graduate.

Tuesday at Northwestern’s Pro Day he was hoping to show NFL scouts what he can do. Unfortunately there were so many players invited to the event thatn Wentland got caught up in a numbers game. To quickly trim down the field of 41 invited players the scouts put them through the 40 yard dash first and only the fastest of the fastest players were allowed to continue with the other Pro Day drills. The rest of the players were sent home.

Wentland’s times of 4.86 and 4.88 in the 40 weren’t good enough to make the cut. Wentland had dropped eight pounds from his playing weight of 240 pounds to try to get faster.

“I know I can always put that weight back on when it gets back to football season, but for right now I was really concentrating on being as fast as I could,” says Wentland.

With linebackers though it’s not about straight-ahead 40 yard dash speed. It’s about lateral quickness and breaking on cuts. Football speed, not track speed. That’s what Wentland has. He never got a chance to show that Tuesday.

Pro Days and combines also don’t show a players’ heart and hustle…two other areas Wentland excels at. He’s a high-motor guy.

“I have a lot of passion for football says Wentland. “I think you can see when you watch it on film I’m always a missile to the football.”

Wentland’s 6’4, 240 pound playing frame is more than NFL size for a middle linebacker. 

So this Pro Day didn’t work out as planned, but Wentland isn’t giving up. He might try to get into a Regional Pro Day where he can do more than run the 40. And he says there are teams that have shown interest in him.
“I had the Bears come out last March and I did the same type of workout, a combine workout. Then this past November I had Miami come out and Minnesota came out and then the Bears came out again. We’ll see if I can hopefully get my foot in the door somewhere.”

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