ARLINGTON — Nate Montana looks the part of a quarterback at 6-foot-4, 221 pounds. He has the right last name, too, as the son of Hall of Famer, Joe.Experience, though, is somewhat lacking.That is how Montana found himself with 200 other long-shot prospects at Cowboys Stadium, dreaming of getting into an NFL training camp this summer.The leagues two-day NFL Super Regional pre-draft workout gave NFL scouts an opportunity to find a needle in a haystack. The next Miles Austin or Tony Romo or Kurt Warner might have been there, needing only an opportunity.Abilene Christian defensive end Ryan Smith, a Fort Worth Southwest Christian product, hoped to draw some teams attention but pulled up Sunday with a hamstring injury. British discus record-holder Lawrence Okoye, who has never played football, likely earned himself a second look after clocking a 4.78 in the 40, a 35-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot, 5-inch broad jump.Montana and Duron Carter were the biggest names on the list of prospects. Carter, the son of Hall of Famer Cris, did not show up Monday, citing the flu, according to organizers.Montana completed 35 of 40 passes, with two drops. Gil Brandt, an analyst for NFL.com, praised Montanas efforts, saying the West Virginia Wesleyan quarterback showed a good arm and good feet.He deserves a camp look, Brandt said.Montana is coming off surgery on his left ankle, having torn ligaments while working out after the season. But even while rehabbing, Montana was throwing with private quarterbacks coach George Whitfield.Montana has worked with Whitfield six days a week since January.This will be one of those unique situations where the kids skill set and his ability have been there all along, but hes just had a long, winding path through college, said Whitfield, who runs Whitfield Athletix, a specialized quarterback training academy in San Diego.With some guys, everything kind of falls together for them opportunity-wise at a level like this where literally teams are going to evaluate you on core tangibles. Thats what hes got. Hes going to be able to play.Montana, 23, attended four colleges in five seasons, going from being a walk-on at Notre Dame to Pasadena City College to Notre Dame to Montana and finally to West Virginia Wesleyan, where he found a home.From 2009-11, Montana completed 66 of 148 passes for 714 yards with four touchdowns and seven interceptions. He was 225-of-436 for 2,480 yards with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season at West Virginia Wesleyan.It was definitely a unique experience, Montana said. I got to see a lot of different places and experience a lot of different things. Im thankful for that. The experience [at West Virginia Wesleyan] was tremendous. It just reinstilled my confidence.Now, Im just trying to go forward and keep my eye on the prize.Montana can take some solace from his father, who was only a third-round draft pick but became arguably the NFLs greatest ever in a 16-year career with the 49ers and the Chiefs. Warner defied even bigger odds.Obviously, the odds are against you a little bit, Montana said, and its an uphill battle. Id like to think Kurt Warner is the epitome of that. He came in undrafted and won a Super Bowl. You just hope for an opportunity with a team to show them what youve got. At the end of the day, thats more than you could ask for.
Charean Williams 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean