For those in attendance at the Utah State Pro Day, they were witnesses to what a chip on the shoulder of a man who goes 6-foot-5 and 295 pounds can do. Kevin Whimpey, the Aggies’ offensive lineman who was a three-year starter, had one goal going in, and that was shattering the bench press record of 49 reps, set by Stephen Paea, the Redskins’ newly-signed $21 million defensive tackle.
Whimpey came up 10 reps short, but his 39 reps would’ve been the best mark at the NFL Combine, besting the top mark of #10 overall pick, Ereck Flowers and his 37 reps.
“I was hoping to go 45, maybe 50, try and break that record,” Whimpey said, according to Brian Shaw of the Utah Sports Examiner. “But I let the breath out a little bit too early. I had a good Pro Day, I hit a good number of reps and I thought I moved adequately.”
Despite his display of strength, the 18 or scouts in attendance gave him feedback, including improving his technique and hand placement.
“My technique does need to get a little bit better, so there’s definitely some areas that I can improve,” Whimpey said, according to Wade Deeniston of The Herald Journal. “But, they like the way that I play, they like the effort I play with, they like my knowledge of the game of football.”
Whimpey is definitely a family man, as his wife, Shaylee and their newborn daughter, Ivy, are the world to him. But he had his twin older brother, Kyle, a guard on for Utah State, to help push and mold him into the player he is today. In fact, the two are basically an extension of the coaching staff, and what it takes to succeed at the Division I-A level of football.
“They show a freshman how we train, how we run, how we lift, how we study, and don’t accept anything but that 18-year-old’s very best effort,” head coach Matt Wells said, according to Kyle Goonof The Salt Lake Tribune. “Those kids, they don’t take no for an answer from those little brothers. When you see that kind of stuff, that’s when you start building traditions.”
Despite 40 career starts, he was a non-invite to the combine, perhaps adding fuel to the fire for him to show the scouts that he did belong. It is important to note that he is older than your average rookie, having started his career at Idaho State before a two-year church mission. Now 25, and married to a former Utah State cheerleader, Whimpey is looking forward to the next stage of his football career, as he was signed as an UDFA of Pittsburgh’s after the draft. There could be many reasons why the team gave him a shot, but a couple could be his maturity level and his leadership. Not only that, but the team’s depth along the offensive line is slim pickings, especially considering this is tackle Mike Adams‘ final year of his rookie deal. Thus far in his career, he’s basically been a revolving door and upgrades could definitely be used.
Before a roster spot though, comes hard work, beginning with rookie minicamps which kicked off Friday, and are filled with other players of similar size and stature vying for a select few jobs. If the old adage “only the strong survive” holds true in this case, then perhaps Whimpey will earn, at worst, a practice squad spot.
Sounds like a typical, blue-collar Pittsburgh response to me.