SALT LAKE CITY — With each press of the 225 pounds Hunter Dimick held in his hands, the Utah defensive lineman pulled himself closer to vindication.
Teammates, coaches and many of the 32 NFL scouts attending Utah’s Pro Day Thursday morning, crowded around the bench press where Dimick was determined to prove a point. As encouragement escalated into shouts and then cheers of congratulations, Dimick stood, red-faced and grinning, to embrace the man who helped push him to this moment — offensive lineman Isaac Asiata.
“You know, I had a chip on my shoulder not getting invited to the combine,” the 23-year-old Syracuse standout said after offering one of the best all-around performances at the event that featured 21 players competing in speed, strength and agility drills for all 32 NFL scouts. “I wanted to make a statement and show my strength and speed and be able to go and get 38 (reps) on the bench and beat everyone else that did get invited. It reconciles it a little bit.”
Of those players invited, it was Asiata who had the best bench press at the combine with 35 reps. So if Dimick could beat his former teammate’s mark, he’d essentially accomplish two things — ease the disappointment of not being invited to the combine while erasing the frustration of not beating Asiata during their two months of training in San Diego.
“He’s been frustrated because (in San Diego), I was getting more than him,” said Asiata with a grin. “Me and Hunter just kind of went back and forth, so just to see him rep it out, throw it around like it was nothing, that was huge. I’m excited.” Asiata was not surprised that Dimick beat the mark he set at the combine.
“I knew he was going to beat me no matter what,” Asiata said. “I think he should have (gone) and did that at the combine. And if he went to the combine, he probably would have hit 40. So I’m very excited for Hunter. He’s killing it today. He ran a solid 40 time, he’s moving like a skill player. I’m very proud of Hunter.”
Pro Day began with measurements of hands, wingspan and height. Players moved from the vertical jump to the broad jump and the bench press, after which they moved to the Fieldhouse where they ran a 40-yard dash, a shuttle run and some agility drills. They finished with some position work that include specific requests or challenges from some of the scouts in attendance.
In addition to what would have been the best bench press at the NFL’s combine, Dimick ran a 4.69 40-yard dash and had 10-foot broad jump with a 28-inch vertical jump.
Jason Thompson had the best vertical and broad jumps with a 39.5 vertical and 11-foot-1 broad jump.
With no official times released, Thompson’s unofficial time was 4.43 and running back Joe Williams’ time was 4.3. Wide receiver Tim Patrick had an unofficial time of 4.42.
While the specific goals were different for every player, all of them hoped to impress the scouts who dutifully scribbled down weights, notes and times down in books during the showcase that started just before 8:30 a.m. and ended about 1:30 p.m.
Dimick said he wasn’t nervous at all as he’s been yearning to prove he’s an NFL caliber player.
“I just feel like people got the impression for some reason that I was slow and couldn’t change direction very well,” Dimick said. “So I felt like I did a good job today of show that’s incorrect, and that I’m overall just a good athlete.”
He acknowledged he was surprised when he was not among the eight Utes invited to the combine.
“I think 15 sacks and 22 TFLs (tackles for loss) in the Pac-12 is pretty good,” said Dimick, who is Utah’s all-time sack record holder with 29.5. “But I was happy I was also able to come out here and showcase what I can do as well.”
When asked what scouts said to him about his performance Thursday, he said, “They said they’ll be in touch. So we’ll see what that means.”
Dimick said the impressive performances his teammates turned in at the combine and during Thursday’s Pro Day is a testament to the quality of Utah’s coaching and the commitment to hard work by its players.
“Just hard work pays off,” he said of what he learned throughout the training process. “There’s been a lot of highs, a lot of lows. I just always stuck to working hard and controlling what I can control. It’s been a good experience overall. I’ve never been this strong or moved this good, so I’m going to stick with it.”
After a celebratory lunch, Dimick said he plans only one other change to his workout regimen.
“Tomorrow I’m going fishing,” he said. “And then after that I’m going to get back to working hard.”