Four former Villanova football players invited to NFL Pro Day



Meaghan Bedigian

With the NFL draft quickly approaching, four former Villanova football players were invited to Philadelphia on March 27 to showcase their abilities in front of the 24 teams represented at NFL Pro Day. Recent December ’16 graduates Tanoh Kpassagnon, Brad Seaton and Austin Calitro, in addition to current NFL free agent Kevin Monangai, ’15, were all in attendance, representing the program former Head Coach Andy Talley worked 31 years to build into what it is today.

At 6’7”, 289 lbs with only four percent body fat, Kpassagnon is the most exciting NFL prospect out of Villanova since the Eagles selected Brian Westbrook in 2002.  The defensive end is expected to be a third-round draft pick. But some scouts even say he could get picked up in the second round, especially after his performance at the NFL combine in Indianapolis where “audible gasps” could be heard from the room of scouts at his impressive physique.

“Pro Day is almost like a mini combine, and it was fun,” Kpassagnon said. “Already having the combine under my belt and a couple of private workouts with teams, I have gotten used to performing in front of coaches.”

Kpassagnon’s ideal destination would be to follow in Westbrook’s footsteps and play for the Eagles, who has told him that “he belongs with all those guys.”

Seaton trained every day for two months at the Applied Science and Performance Institute in Tampa Bay, Fla., working on mobility, agility, strength and conditioning and eating right to properly fuel his body. The 6’9”, 330-lb lineman treated Pro Day just like any other competition, except the stakes were higher.

“There was a lot of pressure to perform in that one brief moment,” Seaton said. “Everything you dream about and work towards comes down to that moment, but the road doesn’t end there. I enjoyed the process and it was nice to have familiar faces to perform with.”

Monangai has been training with the exclusive New Jersey-based DeFranco’s Gym that has trained the likes of NFL stars Andre Johnson of the Titans, Antonio Cromartie of the Colts and Chris Hogan of the Patriots, Tanner McEvoy of the Seahawks and Justin Trattou of the Vikings since his sophomore year at Villanova. Monangai increased his workout regime in December in order to prepare for Pro Day.

“It’s been about three or four months of just getting out there Monday through Friday,” he said.

All four players ran the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill, and shuttle run in addition to performing a bench press, vertical jump and broad jump, on top of some position-specific drills.

“Scouts look for strength and athleticism and our ability to pay attention and follow direction,” Seaton said. “I feel my performance went well, but this isn’t the end of training for me. I am never satisfied and am always looking to continue to grow and push myself mentally and physically.”

The night leading up to Monday’s events, Monangai even stayed the night at Kpassagnon’s house in Ambler, Pa.

“Kevin has been like a big brother to me since I got to ‘Nova,” Kpassagnon said.

Kpassagnon even lived with Seaton and Calitro in his last semester at Villanova, and very much enjoyed the roommate reunion at Pro Day. Monangai also liked having his former teammates by his side.

“That comradery was awesome,” Monangai said. “I think we calmed each other down.”

Seaton agreed.

“It was great having people with similar attitudes and mindsets there to help push each other and perform to the best of our abilities and prove that we are able to compete with some of the best athletes in the world,” he said. “Everyone is trying to work hard, put in the time and stay focused leading up to the draft.”

So far, Seaton has worked out with the Texans and the Bills and has workouts with the Jets, Eagles, Giants and Patriots coming up.

“The workouts are fun but tough,” he said. “They are one-on-one workouts, and the scouts are looking to critique my every move, but I’m grateful to have these opportunities to get to know the organizations better.”

Seaton’s goal leading into the draft is to get into the best shape possible to stand out among other defensive lineman and secure a spot in the NFL. For who? Doesn’t matter.

“I don’t have an ideal destination, but I would like to be in a place that will give me the opportunity to make an impact and actually play,” Seaton said.

Of the 24 teams at Pro Day, the Eagles, Jets and Giants stood out most to Monangai.

“It was a full house for sure,” he said, happy with his performance in front of teams that could give him a call any day now.

Monangai’s ideal location would be a franchise close to home.

 “I feel good,” Monangai said. “I had a lot of scouts come up to me afterwards and tell me I did a great job. I just hope for the best, and we’ll see what happens.”

Before his time as a free agent, Monangai was picked up by the Eagles in August of 2015 and then with the Vikings one year later.

“I’m just continuing to train and staying ready for if and when the call comes,and just taking it from there.”

And he’ll be cheering on the sidelines for Kpassagnon, Seaton and Calitro for their big day: the NFL Draft. The 82nd annual meeting of NFL franchises to select newly eligible football players is scheduled to be held from April 27 to 29 in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“It’s pretty cool that the draft takes place in the place I called my home for four years, but I plan on being in New York with my family for the draft,” Seaton said.

Monangai is also looking forward for the Draft on the Rocky Steps.

“I think the timing couldn’t have been more perfect and that Philly’s probably going to be shut down when the draft begins, so it’ll be an interesting time for sure.”

As someone who has been through it all already, Monangai has words of advice for his former teammates.

“They should just be themselves,” he said. “They obviously have the talent already, so it’s all about not trying to overthink the process too much.”

The best advice Seaton received was from former Villanova volleyball star Gabby Prethokoukis, who courageously battled and overcame a rare form of lymphoma during her time as a Wildcat.

“[She told me] to keep your head down, work hard and be ready for every opportunity that comes your way because you never know when your opportunity to shine will come.”