Former Missouri offensive lineman Yasir Durant returned to Columbia a few days ago thinking he was here to participate in the Tigers’ pro day.
His plans for Tuesday — like most people’s — have since changed.
The showcase event, set to take place on campus with NFL scouts coming to town to get an up-close look at Durant, Albert Okwuegbunam, Kelly Bryant and other MU football alumni, was canceled late last week due to the novel coronavirus.
Gone with it was another chance for Durant, a three-year starter with the Tigers, to raise his stock for the NFL Draft later this year.
The 6-foot-6, 330-pound Durant said Monday afternoon he was scheduled to participate in position drills at the Missouri pro day along with testing his vertical jump and strength on the bench press.
Since the end of the college football season, Durant has trained at Ford Sports Performance in Bellevue, Washington, just outside of Seattle, primarily in preparation for the NFL Combine, which was in late February.
“Just getting my body in shape, dropping a few pounds, getting bigger, getting stronger, getting fast, getting more quick,” Durant said of his training this year. “Just mentally, getting away from a college town and other stuff, there’s really nothing to do where I was training at.
“It gave time to really settle down and get to work.”
Durant didn’t train alongside any of his MU teammates, but he went through workouts with a few University of Washington alumni who are also hoping to hear their names called at the draft, such as Trey Adams and Hunter Bryant.
While at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Durant ran a 5.52-second 40-yard dash, had a 25-inch vertical jump and completed 21 reps on the 225-pound bench press.
“It was awesome. It was a dream come true for me,” Durant said of the combine. “As a little kid watching the combine and wanting to be there, wanting to meet with these teams, the experience was awesome.
“I got to meet with some coaches that I've seen on TV or personal favorite coaches of mine. I got to talk to them and really get some insight about the NFL, get some insight about their organization, and it was a great experience.”
One reason why the Missouri pro day was important to Durant was improving upon his combine statistics and showing growth to professional scouts.
Durant wanted to finish 24 or 25 reps on the bench press to further prove he’s ready to contribute at the next level.
“Since they shut everything down, I haven't really been going anywhere to train,” Durant said. “I’ve been doing stuff on my own, push-ups, abs and stuff that I can do at my house that can keep me still working. Not so much of all the extra stuff, all the advanced stuff, because I haven't been able to go anywhere.”
Durant is looking for another gym to continue his pre-draft workouts while also studying online to finish his degree in sports management at Missouri.
The NFL announced Monday that it still plans to hold the 2020 draft as scheduled from April 23-25, but public draft events in Las Vegas will not take place amid ongoing precautions due to the virus.
The draft will still be televised, but exact details have yet to be announced. The NFL’s original plans for the draft included a stage on the lake of the Fountains of the Bellagio Hotel, with players transported from the famed Las Vegas Strip by boat.
Durant’s plans for draft night haven’t changed. He intends to watch the event from his hometown of Philadelphia with his family.