Former Lions prepare for NFL Draft

Senior defensive back Darvell Harris celebrates after returning an interception 52 yards against Miles College Sept. 6, 2015 at Legion Field. Harris received calls from 13 NFL teams  interested in him.

The NFL Draft is a day many college players dream about but few get to experience.

For two former UNA football standouts, this dream could become a reality April 28.

NFL scouts from various teams have contacted both running back Lamonte Thompson and defensive back Darvell Harris in aspirations of possibly drafting or signing.

“Any time we can get a former player in the professional league, whether it be the NFL or Canadian League (CFL), that’s big time,” said UNA defensive coordinator Chris Willis. “The NFL is taking over as the (most popular league), and we have two guys that have a chance to go into that.”

Thompson, a former Florence High School star player, said he spends six days per week training for the next level.

“I did a pro day and did the (NFL) media combine,” Thompson said. “I was in Daytona, Florida, training, then I came back here (to Florence) doing the things I learned down in Daytona. I’ve been staying in shape, getting stronger and working on catching some punts and cone drills.”

Thompson has had four NFL teams contact him directly, and his agent has talked to a few more, he said.

Harris, a junior college transfer from Chicago, Illinois, said he is back in the Windy City performing various drills almost every day.

Thirteen teams have contacted Harris directly, including his hometown Chicago Bears who hosted him and other locals for a workout day April 14, he said. Coming from a Division II college, Harris said he hopes to prove himself.

“I’m blessed to have a lot of teams looking to add me to their roster,” Harris said. “Not everyone gets an opportunity if they come from a small school, but (attending camps) gives me a better shot to play the game I love.”

Willis said in talking to scouts about both players, each are putting up good numbers in camps leading up to the draft.

“The thing with Darvell, to break him down, is (scouts) like his height and speed,” Willis said. “One thing they might question is how he plays the run game. They know he can cover, but are looking at if he can be physical. He’s put on some muscle, and I think that’s going to help.”

Willis compared Thompson to Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles based on his size, speed and agility.

“I think Lamonte has everything you need,” he said. “He’s tough and he’s got speed. I think (scouts) question him just being that he’s an undersized running back, not so much in his body weight, but in his height.

“Maybe (teams) can put him in as a return guy or a third-down back. I hope he gets in camp and has an opportunity to prove himself.”

With the small town, small school underdog story, Thompson said he hopes to represent the university and Shoals community in the pros.

“It means a lot to have (the community) support,” Thomson said. “I have a lot of people saying they’re pulling for me and they’re supporting me. I feel like I would do my community good by making it to the NFL.”

Harris said UNA holds a special place in his heart.

“There’s a big tradition at North Alabama, and I’m honored to come out of North Alabama,” he said. “A lot of people have went to the league (from UNA), and to add my name to the board of 32 teams as the next big cornerback that played at North Alabama is exciting.”