Bridgeton residents Dominique Williams and Andrew Pierce are putting their football skills on display for the NFL.
Pierce, a Cumberland Regional High School graduate, worked out for the Philadelphia Eagles at the NovaCare Complex on Thursday. Williams, a Bridgeton graduate, worked out that same day for the New York Giants in East Rutherford. He also plans to work out for the New York Jets today.
“I was not necessarily star-struck, but after it all, I just realized that I had worked out with these teams and it was like, these are the type of things that I dreamed about,” said Williams, who also worked out on April 5 for a Kansas City Chiefs scout at Bridgeton High School.
Pierce grew up a San Francisco 49ers fan but said his family roots for the Eagles. A picture he posted on Facebook of himself and two Delaware teammates outside the NovaCare Complex drew 265 “likes.”
“It’s crazy getting an opportunity to work out for a team that my family really loves,” Pierce said. “I think the coolest thing was just seeing their facility. They’ve got such a great facility there, and just being in the locker room and walking out on the field, it’s just a dream come true to even have the opportunity to work out for an NFL team.”
Williams and Pierce, who are close friends, both play running back. The 5-foot-9, 205-pound Williams rushed for 4,435 yards in his career at Wagner, ranking him fourth all-time in the Northeast Conference. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Pierce rushed for 4,459 yards in his career at the University of Delaware, putting him eighth all-time in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Both Pierce and Williams said the workouts were easier than their respective pro days at their schools, when scouts from several NFL teams watched players go through generic drills such as the 40-yard dash.
“I was more nervous on my pro day than I was (Thursday with the Eagles),” Pierce said. “I knew (the workout) was going to be a lot of football stuff and it was just going to be one-on-one with the coaches. I was really focused in and relaxed.”
The workouts focused on position-specific activities. The players did cone drills. They ran routes on which they were asked to cut on command.
“I would run a stretch play and (a coach) would say, ‘Cut,’ or, ‘Bounce it in,’” Williams said. “It was to simulate as if we were in a game. … It’s not like the 40, where you’ve got to have, like, super-proper technique. It’s just like football. It’s like coming home.”
On Thursday, Pierce worked with Eagles running backs coach and former player Duce Staley. Williams worked with Giants running backs coach Craig Johnson. Both players said the coaches praised them for their pass-catching ability.
“I was very quick and explosive through my drills, and he just was like, ‘Man, you’ve got great hands. You’re pretty explosive,’” Williams said.
Williams said the workout with the Chiefs was “a bit overwhelming” because it was his first one. But he felt comfortable last Thursday in East Rutherford. He also plans to meet with the Houston Texans at some point.
“It was like a dream come true,” Williams said. “Now, I’m there, so I’ve got to give it everything I’ve got. … I wanted to learn more. I was so eager.”
Pierce said last week that he didn’t have anything else specific lined up, but he does plan to work out for more teams. He said the Eagles’ invitation came “out of the blue” after their scouts were impressed at Delaware’s pro day.
The NFL draft starts May 8, and while Williams and Pierce are longshots to be selected in the seven-round draft, both appear likely to sign with teams afterward.
“I’m pretty confident I’ll end up somewhere,” Williams said.
Pierce said he’s not concerned with whether he gets drafted or signs as a free agent.
“All I want is the opportunity,” Pierce said. “It definitely is something I worked for my whole college career. Just to get the opportunity to sign with a team would be an amazing feeling. It would be indescribable if I get a call on draft day or after draft day or whatever it is.”