BOZEMAN — It’s not as common for FCS players to get invited to high-exposure all-star games or the NFL Combine compared to athletes competing in the FBS, which means Pro Day is normally their first and sometimes only chance to work out in front of NFL scouts.
That was the case for the six former Bobcats that competed last week. So here’s a memo to NFL teams as they finalize their draft board: overlook Ty Okada at your own risk.
With seven NFL teams present for Montana State’s Pro Day, Okada emerged as potentially one of the hidden gems of this year’s draft class by putting up numbers that ranked him next to some of the combine’s top prospects.
When comparing his Pro Day performance to the 22 safeties that competed during last month’s combine, Okada would have finished in the top three of five different categories:
“I’ve always had confidence in myself and knowing that I have the athleticism and the ability to stack up on top of where a lot of those guys’ numbers are at, but to be able to go out and show that and show the scouts hey I’m here to stay and I’m here to play in the NFL and I’ve got the athleticism and the traits was an exciting time," Okada expressed.
Despite being one of Montana State’s top prospects, that’s not where his story began.
Okada joined the program as a walk-on in 2017 after being overlooked in high school and had to grind his way into becoming one of the mainstays on defense. Nonetheless, it’s a journey he wouldn’t change, and hopes other players will look to it for inspiration.
“People may have argued I wasn’t the most athletic — a walk-on — and just to be able to show if you stay committed to this process that coach Sean (Herrin) lays out for you and you’re dedicated to your craft, you can accomplish whatever you put your mind to," Okada added.
While he’d like to take credit for that mentality, he was quick to point out the support of his parents.
“They’ve loved me and supported me throughout my entire life and they’ve ... gosh I’m getting choked up ... they’ve believed in me before I believed in myself, and to be able to do that, that’s who I work hard for because they’ve set that example and that precedent and being able to do that and have them out here is extremely special," he smiled.
While the future remains uncertain for the 5-foot-11safety, Okada is the true epitome of hard work paying off; so whether he’s worked his way into a draft spot or not there’s no doubt he’ll still have an opportunity to play on Sundays.
"Whatever opportunity I’m given, just like anything I’ve ever done in my life, I’m going to take full advantage of it and I’ll make it."
The 2023 NFL Draft begins April 27 and concludes on April 29.