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With college football season over, local standouts look ahead to NFL Draft

Jan. 17—SIOUX FALLS — The college football season has ended, and it was a wildly successful one in South Dakota. As such, there are a number of players from in-state programs who should be candidates to play professionally, and they're already training for a potential opportunity.

South Dakota State and USD will each host a Pro Day for NFL scouts on March 25, and with almost 20 players between the two Division I schools being on the draft radar, virtually every NFL team is expected to make the trip. As of now, the plan is for SDSU to host their Pro Day in the morning and USD stage theirs in the afternoon so scouts can attend both.

Who will be there? The list is as long as it's ever been.

The Jackrabbits' decorated senior class features nearly a dozen players whom NFL scouts monitored throughout the 2023 season.

Running back Isaiah Davis is the top prospect. The 6-foot-1, 220-pounder still has the extra COVID year of eligibility available, but will enter the draft after four spectacular seasons. He rushed for 4,548 yards and 50 touchdowns, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. He ran for over 3,000 yards in the last two seasons.

Guard Mason McCormick and cornerback DyShawn Gales have also garnered the attention of scouts, and Davis, Gales and McCormick all stayed in Frisco after SDSU's national championship win to continue training there. Offensive tackle Garret Greenfield is working out in Fort Worth.

Those four will all compete at Pro Day, along with 6-7 tight end Zach Heins, who will hope to join Dallas Goedert and Tucker Kraft to give SDSU a trio of NFL tight ends. Also set to appear at Pro Day are linebackers Jason Freeman and Isaiah Stalbird and wide receivers Jaxon and Jadon Janke. Offensive tackle John O'Brian and defensive end Cade Terveer may participate as well.

Stalbird played in the Hula Bowl last week and notched five tackles in the game. McCormick, Greenfield and Heins will play in the East-West Shrine Bowl on Feb. 1 in Frisco, and Davis will play in the Senior Bowl on Feb. 3 in Mobile, Ala.

Coming off a 10-win season, the Coyotes have several players who hope to catch on in the league.

Cornerback Myles Harden is the top draw — he's the only player from South Dakota to have received an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine. Harden has battled injuries in his Coyote career, but proven himself as an elite cover man when healthy. Harden is currently training at the well-known Exos facility in Dallas.

Linebackers Brock Mogensen and Stephen Hillis will appear at Pro Day and hope to improve their stock, along with edges Brendan Webb and Micah Roane, guard Isaac Erbes, linebacker Jonathan Joanis and longsnapper Caden Pellizzer.

While there are a few Coyotes in the NFL — linebacker Jack Cochrane and defensive tackle Kameron Cline, with quarterback Chris Streveler still hanging around as a free agent, USD's last draft pick was Tyler Starr in 2014.

Augustana tackle Blake Larson, a former Brandon Valley standout, is one of the top draft prospects from the Division II level. The 6-7, 300-pound senior is a three-time All-NSIC pick and will perform at one of the Pro Days in March.

Running back Jarod Epperson, wide receiver/kick returner Devon Jones and quarterback Casey Bauman are also expected to pursue professional opportunities.

And from Northern State, receiver Dewaylon Ingram, who caught 70 balls for 1,220 yards last year, and defensive lineman Ian Marshall, an Oklahoma State transfer who had 14 sacks in 2022 but just 1.5 this year, are also going to garner attention.

The 2024 NFL Draft is set for April 25-27 in Detroit.