Two undrafted Northwestern State 2016 senior football players, running back De’Mard Llorens and receiver/returner Shakeir Ryan, are getting an opportunity to reach the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams.
Llorens and Ryan, two of the most productive players in school history, will get tryouts during the Rams’ upcoming rookie mini-camp May 12-14 in Los Angeles.
“De’Mard and ‘Shake’ had tremendous Pro Day performances here this spring, and put up numbers that day that combined with their production for four years as Demons to earn them an opportunity at the highest level,” said veteran head coach Jay Thomas. “They’re excellent representatives of our program and bring great skill sets to the table at the professional level.”
They could add to the NSU Alumni chapter with the Rams. A standout blocker for them until last season, offensive tackle Pace Murphy, made the Rams’ 53-man active roster last season as an undrafted free agent. Former Demons center and assistant coach Bill Johnson joined the Los Angeles coaching staff as the defensive line coach earlier this year.
NSU has two more active players, Seattle cornerback Jeremy Lane and New York Jets defensive tackle Deon Simon. Another former player, Barry Rubin, is the veteran strength and conditioning coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Ryan (5-8, 162) was honorable mention All-Southland as a punt returner after he finished second in the conference with his 10.1 punt return average. The Lafayette-Northside product finished his career second all-time at NSU with 140 career receptions.
Llorens (5-11, 213), a hometown product and Natchitoches Central graduate, was a first-team All-Southland running back last fall. He finished 10th all-time in Demon history in rushing yards (2,381 yards) and scored 180 career points (30 touchdowns, 25 rushing).
He led the Southland with an 85-yard overall rushing average in 10 games (12 yards better than the second-ranked runner) and a 99-yard average (nearly 17 yards ahead of No. 2) in eight conference contests. That included an abbreviated outing at Central Arkansas where on his second carry, he sustained a shoulder injury that benched him for the rest of that game and the next contest.
Discounting that brief appearance, Llorens’ averages would jump to 94 yards rushing overall, 112 yards per conference game, and he would also have topped the league in all-purpose yardage in conference play (133 ypg).
Finishing with 853 yards rushing on 134 carries (a 6.4 average per carry), Llorens ran for eight touchdowns. He caught two TD passes while making 158 yards with his 19 catches.
Llorens finished fifth in school history, tied with Sidney Thornton (1973-76), by scoring 25 touchdowns on the ground. He added five pass reception scores, with his 180 career points ranking sixth in school history for non-kickers, trailing only Derrick Johnese (212 from 2002-04), Shelton Sampson (198 from 2002-05) and Tony Taylor (198 from 1998-2001), Joe Delaney (188 from 1977-80) and Charlie Tolar (182 from 1956-58).