2023 Football

Five takeaways from FAMU Pro Day

25 scouts descended on the highest of seven hills for an NFL pro day in Tallahassee. Here’s what stood out.

With the sun sitting high on Bragg Memorial Stadium on a Thursday afternoon in late March, 25 professional football scouts arrived at FAMU for the Rattlers’ 2023 Pro Football Day. There were 23 scouts from the NFL and two from the Canadian Football League. Below are the 5 biggest takeaways from pro day at Florida A&M as we saw it.

1. Neither Xavier Smith or Isaiah Land ran the 40-yard dash

The two biggest names at FAMU pro day were wide receiver Xavier Smith and defensive playmaker Isaiah Land. The rattler duo returned to their alma mater for their pro football job interview. There was one thing, however, that was noticeably absent from both players’ pro-day workouts… neither ran the 40-yard dash.

Isaiah Land left his mark on the 2023 NFL Draft Combine back in February where the FAMU lineman completed the 40-yard dash in 4.66 seconds. The 2021 Buck Buchanan Award winner has been putting in work during the off-season to prepare for his NFL journey. During Pro Day Land weighed in at 235 pounds; that’s ten pounds he’s put on since the end of the season.

Land said he wanted to prove to the scouts that he can perform at any level and show that he can compete with any top player in the country. “Now that pro day is over I’m just going to go back to what know, be in football shape, and be prepared for whatever team calls me to let them know that I’m ready to go.”

Xavier Smith made a lot of noise at the HBCU Combine with a blazing 40-yard dash time. Smith clocked in around 4.38 seconds, which is an eye-popping number for a receiver who’s also known to be an elite route runner.

During pro day, Xavier Smith showed great burst as he lept to an impressive 36 inches on the vertical jump. Smith is no stranger to leaving a lasting impression on the field. Smith led HBCU receivers in catches per game and ranked third in the FCS for receptions per game in 2022.

Smith told reporters that he feels good going into the draft; his participation in pro day and the conversations with various scouts have solidified that he’s trending upwards toward his NFL goal.

2. For the first time, two specialists participated in Pro Day

Coming to Rattler Nation in 2021, Jose Romo-Martinez and Chris Faddoul quickly became Florida A&M football’s number-one placekicker and punter. Evolving into an All-America special teams duo with both players being named in the 2022 Preseason All-SWAC First Team Special Teams. Helping them create a bond that extends beyond the football field.

“Not only to be proud of me but be proud of my friend who I’ve seen put in the hard work. Living with me, eating the same diet, grinding with me off the field; to now performing with me on pro day” said Faddoul when asked about his relationship with Romo-Martinez. “Handling the duties of kick-off, field goal and if he wanted to he could’ve done punt too; but I’m thankful for this guy.”

During pro day Faddoul completed a long 59-yard punt, while Romo-Martinez made his mark with some impressive kicks as well.

Coming off of an ACL injury in 2018, Faddoul made a name for himself. As a redshirt senior he ranked second in the FCS for punt average, 24th in total punt yards, and 25th in total punts. Romo-Martinez ranked first in the SWAC in field goals per game (12th in the nation) and in field goal averages (14th in the nation).

Pro Day
Pro Day

3. The scouts wanted to see Isaiah Land do linebacker drills

Despite spending his entire Florida A&M career playing defensive line, Isaiah Land didn’t put his fingers in the dirt once during pro day, and not lining up in a three-point stance at all likely means the scouts are looking at him to play linebacker at the next level. A position we also saw Land play during the Reese’s Senior Bowl.

For the Rattlers, Isaiah Land racked up 62 solo (89 total) tackles, 29 sacks, and one interception; leading the nation in sacks and tackles for loss. In his four seasons, the New York native was named Preseason SWAC Defensive Player of the Year (2021), Preseason All-SWAC First Team Defense (2021), National Defensive Player of the Year (2021), and SWAC Defensive Player of the Year.

4. Washington Commanders General Manager Martin Mayhew came to get an up-close look at Isaiah Land

Twenty-two NFL scouts showed up at the FAMU pro day including representatives from the Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Detriot Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, and Washington Commanders.

But instead of sending a scout, the Washington Commanders general manager Martin Mayhew touched down in Tallahassee himself to take a closer look at the NFL prospects from Florida A&M, more specifically Isaiah Land.

HBCU Gameday’s Vaughn Wilson chopped it up with Mayhew after Pro-Day to give high praises to Isaiah Land and the other FAMU players. “You guys (FAMU) have talent that’s why I’m here. Isaiah Land is a legit prospect, I saw him at the Senior Bowl and he had a great week, from start to finish. He belongs and I came to see him specifically but I saw a lot of guys here who are pretty exciting prospects.”

5. Former Albany State Golden Ram Stephan Pierre did his workout at FAMU

The Rattlers weren’t the only squad with players on the field at pro day. Albany State linebacker Stephan Pierre was seen being evaluated on the field while partaking in workouts.

Tallahassee native Stephan Pierre joined the Albany State football squad in 2018. As a linebacker for the Golden Rams, Pierre had 5.5 sacks and 197 total tackles (132 solo and 65 assisted). Pierre earned SIAC Overall MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in 2021. He was also honored as the Protect Your Skull/HBCU Gameday 2021 Division II Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday.  In 2022 Pierre was named to the SIAC Football All-Conference First Team.

As an NFL-draft-eligible player, Pierre was the second player to represent Albany State at the HBCU Legacy Bowl.

Pro Day

Five takeaways from FAMU Pro Day
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