AMES — Jomal Wiltz has to find different ways to stand out.
At 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, Wiltz doesn’t have many height advantages when he lines up at defensive back. He’s had to find other weapons that set him apart.
That’s where his speed comes in.
“I feel like my height made me who I am today and if I was taller, I probably wouldn’t be who I am,” Wiltz said. “I just take it and run with it and prove doubters wrong. That’s how I look at it.”
Run is the operative word in how Wiltz approaches things and he wanted to showcase that during Iowa State’s pro day on Tuesday. Including Wiltz, the Cyclones had 10 outgoing players participate in drills.
Wiltz ran a 4.43 40-yard dash, which was the fastest of the day and would have been tied for eighth fastest among cornerbacks at the NFL Combine earlier this month. The Galena Park, Texas, native has been in Ames since the end of the season training.
Wiltz was an honorable mention all-Big 12 pick by the league coaches, started 11 games, had 49 tackles, defended 11 passes and tied for a team-high two interceptions.
“I feel like (a good 40 time) opens (eyes) up and gives you a chance,” Wiltz said. “I went to the (College Gridiron) Showcase in early January. That was the main question I was asking them. I was like, ‘What are they looking for in a DB?’ They just basically said, ‘Can you run and can you cover?’
All Wiltz’s numbers were increased from his junior year and have helped put him in a better position, he said, to get noticed. He also runs track and field for Iowa State and just finished up the indoor season. He ran a personal best 6.86 in the 60-meter dash.
Wiltz will finish up the outdoor track and field season — he’ll run the 100-meter dash and 400-meter relay — while he prepares for professional football options.
Two-time second team All-Big 12 selection Demond Tucker maxed out on bench press with 25 reps at 225 pounds. He had a 25-inch vertical jump, an 8-foot-8 broad jump and a 5.17 40-yard dash.
“Right now I’m going to continue to work out, continue to get stronger and faster,” Tucker said. “I’m a short guy so that’s going against me, but I’ll just keep going until I can’t go anymore.”
At 6-foot and 295 pounds, Tucker has had to work against his small stature while playing the interior of the defensive line, but was durable. He was one of only five ISU players to start every game last season and led the interior defensive linemen with 45 tackles last season.
Since the end of the season, Tucker moved home to Mississippi to train and be near his mom, who is ill. Along with his trainer, Tucker also has spent time alongside Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who lives in the area.
“(Cox) just always told me the stuff they say I’m not good at, prove them wrong,” Tucker said. “Work hard, do what I have to do, put more hours into it. No matter how stressful it is I just continue to go.”
Second team All-Big 12 defensive lineman Jhaustin Thomas also participated in some drills before being hobbled by a pulled groin muscle. Thomas recorded a 24 on the bench press, 32-inch vertical jump and a 9-foot-10 broad jump before pulling a muscle at the end of his 4.99 40-yard dash.
Thomas is listed at 6-foot-6 and 275 pounds and moved from defensive end to defensive tackle midway through last season. He led the team in tackles for loss (9.5), quarterback hurries (6) and had 23 tackles, giving him a blueprint to how he could translate as a pro.
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“It benefited me a lot because I feel like I’m quicker than most guards and faster than most guards,” Thomas said. “I’m very explosive and I’ve got long arms so it’s been great.”
Defensive line coach Eli Rasheed said after Thomas made the move, and adhered to the principles of what they were teaching, he elevated his stock greatly.
“How long he plays, that’s really up to Jhaustin Thomas,” Rasheed said. “If he comes with a great attitude and effort and wants to be in the National Football League, he can be.”
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