Jaylen Twyman knew when he opted out of his 2020 season at Pitt to being his preparations for the 2021 NFL Draft early, he would have to answer questions about why he made that decision and what he did with his time.
He answered one of them in a big way about 10 minutes into Pitt’s Pro Day on Wednesday, when Twyman put up an incredible 40 repetitions in the 225-pound bench press.
— NFL (@NFL) March 17, 2021
To put that into context, it’s believed to be the most by a Pitt player ever. Current NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald had just 35 reps after his Pitt career. Head coach Pat Narduzzi said Twyman’s performance is the most he’s ever witnessed. Only one player at the 2020 NFL Combine had more than 40 reps, and the NFL Combine record is 49.
So yeah, Twyman — who also added 11 pounds from his listed Pitt weight to check in at 301 — didn’t exactly sit around during his time away from the game.
“I definitely was trying to show that I haven’t just been sitting at home,” Twyman said. “I was just trying to show that all the work I’ve been putting in and the pain I have built up. I was just trying to put my best foot forward.”
Twyman certainly did that. When asked about his decision to step away from the Pitt team last fall, he said it came down to being able to provide for his family, and he’s not worried about any potential impacts it will have on his draft status.
“I was just trying to help my mom and my little brothers financially, so whatever happens in April happens, you know what I mean?” Twyman said. “My team showed great gratitude towards me, they felt as if I wasn’t selfish at all. So it’s in God’s hands now.”
Just because Twyman remains confident in that decision doesn’t mean he didn’t miss playing football with the Panthers last fall.
“I probably remember almost every play that happened last season, I was talking to those guys before every game,” he said. “I cried the first couple games. I definitely was missing them a lot, I was watching them. I’m just grateful for their support that they gave me when I came back.”
It’s been hard for Twyman to not imagine what his season could have been like playing around players like Patrick Jones II and Rashad Weaver.
“I know for a fact if I’d have played this year with them two dudes running off the edge and them great DBs, I feel like my numbers would’ve been better than last year,” Twyman said. “Definitely with the teammates I had around me, you adding in Rashad Weaver and Calijah Kancey, the sacks would’ve been falling into my lap.”
But that is in the past, and as Twyman showed with his powerful performance on Wednesday, his future remains bright.
“I’m excited for draft day,” he said. “I’ve got a wide range of different ways it could go. I’m just keeping my head down and praying and we’ll see.”
TWYMAN PRO DAY FILE
📏 6-foot-1 3/4, 301 pounds, 10-inch hands, 32 1/8-inch arms, 78 1/2-inch wingspan
🦘32.5-inch vertical jump; 8-foot, 8-inch broad jump
🏃♂️ 5.39-second 40-yard dash, 8-second three-cone drill
🏋️♂️ 40 repetitions