IOWA CITY — After beating the odds throughout his collegiate career, it rates as a chance Cole Croston considered too good to pass up.
The Iowa offensive lineman is doing what he can to attract the attention of NFL scouts who are preparing for the league’s three-day draft beginning April 27.
Ultimately, the hope is to hear his name called and follow in the footsteps of his father, Dave Croston, a third-round choice of Green Bay in 1987 after completing his Hawkeye career.
Cole Croston has already earned a degree in finance from Iowa, but continues to train in Iowa City in preparation for the upcoming draft.
He participated in Iowa’s pro day last month, has talked with a few teams and hopes that five years of work in a Hawkeye system has positioned him for an opportunity at the next level.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance,’’ Croston said. “If it doesn’t work out, I have a finance degree from the University of Iowa and I should be able to get a job somewhere. When draft day comes around, either it happens or it doesn’t and you get picked up by somebody. That’s the goal — an opportunity. That’s all I want.’’
Croston’s numbers at Iowa’s pro day may have helped position him for that opportunity, either as a later-round draft choice or a free agent signing.
He recorded a 32.5-inch vertical jump, a number that was better than any of the offensive linemen who participated in that event at the NFL Combine, and he turned times in the 40-yard dash and three-cone drill that would have rated among the top 15 of Combine participants.
“I’ve heard from some teams. They’re interested in talking to me and I’m interested in talking to them,’’ Croston said. “I just want to see where it can lead. It’s a lot like when I came to Iowa.’’
Croston arrived in Iowa as a walk-on, the son of a former Hawkeye who was willing to work and willing to do what it took to work his way onto the field.
He has added nearly 90 pounds to his 6-foot-5 frame during his college career, arriving from Sergeant Bluff-Luton High School at 225 pounds and weighing in at pro day at 314.
He moved into the lineup in 2015, starting 10 games on Iowa’s Rose Bowl team.
Last season as a senior, Croston earned third-team all-Big Ten honors despite being limited to eight starts because of a lower leg injury.
“I’ve been able put on good weight and continue to compete and move the way I want to,’’ Croston said. “I’ve had to earn everything that I’ve earned here and I feel like that shows that I’m willing to put in any work that I need to put in at the next level.’’
Satisfied with his pro day numbers he hopes ultimately lead him to the chance to join a collection of eight Iowa offensive linemen who have been drafted since 2010, Croston believes his understanding of the Hawkeyes’ zone-blocking schemes can also be a benefit moving forward.
“Iowa linemen are prepared well. History shows that. I’ve learned a lot in my time here and I hope I can put that to use,’’ Croston said. “I hope it can lead me to a chance. That’s what I'm working toward.’’