Chandon Herring blocks for Zach Wilson against Toledo in 2019. Both Herring and Wilson are preparing for the NFL Draft and will participate in BYU's Pro Day on March 26. (BYU Photo)

Chandon Herring: A ‘Viking’ on his way to the NFL

The morning air is crisp and cool, No. 77, “The Freak,” walks out onto the field at LaVell Edwards Stadium and smells the freshly-cut grass. It is game day at BYU and he is hungry for some pancakes.

But BYU’s 6-foot-7 offensive lineman Chandon Herring has set his eyes on a new opportunity: the NFL.

Herring moved to Denver following the football season and has been working on his agility, strength and technique for BYU Pro Day on March 26 and the NFL Draft in April.

In the weight room, which he calls “the most honest place you can go to,” Herring can power clean 380 pounds, bench press 410 pounds and squat 600 pounds. He runs a 4.9-second 40-yard dash, which is extremely fast for a lineman.

Dave Feldman, a Fox Sports reporter, chose Herring to be on his annual “Freak List” of physically-intriguing college football players during the 2020 preseason and said Herring is the “complete specimen.”

“He’s a Viking of a human being,” said Jeff Hansen, a sports reporter from 24/7 Sports. “People aren’t supposed to be his size and move that well. Even for a college football player, Herring’s athleticism is freaky.”

Hansen said what Herring did at BYU had to be appealing to the NFL.

“Herring is incredibly versatile,” Hansen said. “He played four positions along that offensive line at BYU, and could have played all five. That kind of versatility is incredibly valuable at the NFL level.”

The Arizona native realized the NFL could be a possibility when he started playing at BYU.

“I always enjoyed football and it was when I started competing at BYU that I learned how extensive and influential football is, not only to be a good football team but to impact people’s lives personally and spiritually,” Herring said.

Herring loves a good old-fashioned pancake for breakfast, but in terms of football, he uses his strength and speed to take any chance he can to get “pancakes” in games as well. A pancake in football refers to when an offensive lineman’s block leaves a defensive player flat on his back.

“One of the most satisfying feelings is when you pancake somebody,” Herring said. “It is a very satisfying moment because you have reached a point when you can impose your will on them, against their own, and that is a great moment.”

Fellow offensive lineman and friend James Empey said the way Herring practices and trains sets him apart from the rest.

“He does a lot of things really well,” Empey said. “He can run and get under defenders and lift them and drag them. That’s where you can see his strength come in and it shows on the field and in his in tapes.”

Herring and Empey met at a summer BYU football camp in high school and Empey noticed how much he has grown since then.

“He was tall, lanky and skinny (in high school) and I remember getting off of my mission and he was already a huge guy,” Empey said. “Just to see him for where he was in high school, he worked so hard to be here.”

Herring has talked with former Cougars Austin Hoyt and Dallas Reynolds, who started his NFL career in 2009 as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles.

However, Herring has primarily gone to his coaches for advice, including former BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes and offensive line coach Eric Mateos.

“The best thing to hear is that yes, it’s going to be a rough process, but that I can do it and that it is a doable process,” Herring said. “Attempting to go to the NFL is a huge commitment for anyone to do. Less than one percent of people in college sports have a chance in the NFL. It’s great to know that I can.”

Chandon Herring, 77, walks with Zach Wilson, 1, off the field at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Oct. 24, 2020. Both Herring and Wilson will perform at BYU’s Pro Day on March 26. (Nate Edwards/BYU Photo)

He attributes a lot of his success to the strength and conditioning staff as well, because they go beyond the weight room and have supported him since he started at BYU. He said he owes them a lot.

“Over the years I have had five different coaches, but throughout it all, it has been the same strength staff, and they know you and know how to get the most of you,” Herring said. “They are also there as your own personal fan base because once you put in the work they want to see you succeed.”

Herring was invited to go to the College Gridiron Showcase in January in Texas. Almost every NFL team was there, and the Dallas Cowboys brought 12 different scouts to that event.

He was able to sit down and interview with all of the teams for a couple of days and show his abilities for a day of combine-style drills that were position-specific.

Herring was one of four players pulled aside to do more drills in front of scouts and he said it was a great opportunity. One of his goals there was to have a good time and make sure everyone else did as well.

“At the CGS I was able to show my body composition, how I move, and they have film on me, but on Pro Day, then they want to see how I can perform athletically,” Herring said.

At BYU’s Pro Day, prospective picks will be doing combine drills such as the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, shuttle run, bench press and broad jump. BYU will likely have five players taken in the NFL Draft this year, which hasn’t happened since 2002.

Herring spends his time in Denver balancing workouts and his last semester of school. He has also been active on social media and has spoken to youth groups in the area.

“When you go into training you have at least one to two coaches watching you at all times and so every detail how you do is critiqued so that you get the most out of every single thing you do,” Herring said. “These are the little details all the time that make you better.”

Herring said he declared for the NFL Draft because he wants to see how good he can be.

“I want to see how good I can be at something,” he said. “Everything is considered a hobby until someone is willing to pay you for it. It’s a great opportunity to not only see what I can do, but also that you have a lot of influence in the NFL. You (can) do a lot of good things.”

BYU’s offensive line was a semifinalist in the 2020 Joe Moore Award for the most outstanding offensive line group in college football. BYU has a reputation for being on top at that position.

“I think it speaks volumes to Kalani (Sitake) and the culture he has built on the team,” Herring said. “He is very particular and upfront when he recruits. He is looking for guys who not only will excel in football but also do well in school and who have a good attitude for life.”

Herring said he will be surrounded by family during the draft, which will go from April 29-May 1.

“Any team will be lucky to have him,” Empey said. “He is a good guy off the field, a good leader, and would be a good addition.”

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