Now, those scouts and front-office types will get a chance to watch him on the biggest stage for prospective draft picks.
Bonner has been invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis later this month. He’s believed to be the first JSU player invited since Mark Word got the call in 1999.
“There are only 3-400 guys who get invited to the event,” Bonner said. “There’s all kinds of I-A schools there with great players and for them to choose a guy from (JSU), a small Division I-AA, that’s a blessing and an honor and I’m proud to be part of it.
“It was one of my dreams to be on that stage and it actually came through.”
Bonner got the invite a month and a half ago while he was working out in Atlanta. He has since taken his three-a-day workouts to South Florida, the fruits of which he hopes to take to the Combine and “try to blow it up.”
He is one of 24 Football Championship Subdivision players (six receivers) among the 333 players invited to the Combine. The Southeastern Conference leads the way with 79 total players.
At present he is believed to be a late-round draft pick or high priority free agent and is heading to Indy with hopes of improving that stock. The draft is April 26-28 in New York.
“We’ve had some highly regarded guys, but I think you’re truly draftable if they’re taking you to the Combine,” former JSU coach Jack Crowe said. “Alan’s very smart and I think he understands what they’re looking for and how to position himself.
“The draft a lot of times is about numbers. What I noticed about him in the last year is he’s developed the training mentality and knows how to get himself to the numbers he needs. I think he fits the environment; he’s in that mentality that’s required in that environment about hitting numbers. I think he’s going to interview and test extremely well.”
Bonner played in 44 games for the Gamecocks, starting as a true freshman. He led them in catches (50), receiving yards (859) and touchdowns (6) last season and is second in career receiving yards (1,986) and touchdowns (20).
In addition to his receiving skills he was a dangerous return man, a skill that likely won’t be tested until he gets into somebody’s camp. He is JSU’s all-time career leader in punt return yards (972) and punt returns (87),
The receivers work out in the Combine Feb. 24.
“It definitely increases my chance of getting drafted,” Bonner said. “Even if I don’t get drafted, I’ll get picked up. I want to be one somebody’s team. If I make it to a camp I can show them something.”
Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.