CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Drew Forbes was recognized this week for his role in helping the Southeast Missouri State football program reach a new pinnacle.
The dominant and durable left tackle and graduate of North County High School was selected to the Football Championship
Subdivision Second Team offense by the Associated Press.
Forbes made 35 consecutive starts for the Redhawks to cap a collegiate career that included First Team honors from the Ohio Valley Conference a few weeks ago.
Listed at 6-foot-5 and 305 pounds, he is projected by numerous publications as a future NFL draft pick next spring, potentially having his name called in the fourth or fifth round.
Forbes blocked for running back and fellow SEMO all-American Marquis Terry, who led the OVC with 1,229 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns this year.
The Redhawks earned an at-large berth into the NCAA FCS playoffs, and notched their first postseason victory in team history at home by rallying past Stony Brook 28-14.
Southeast then traveled to Ogden, Utah, for a challenge against second-ranked Weber State, but fell 48-23 to finish the season 9-4 overall and 6-2 in league play.
No sir, this homegrown Missouri talent prefers to just brawl. Head down, lunch pail in hand, no frills … the kind of lineman the old-school linemen love and respect. This weekend, Forbes could very likely be only the second SEMO player taken in the draft since 2004, following in the footsteps of his 2017 teammate Kendall Donnerson, who was taken on day three last year. DraftScout.com sees Forbes as a 4th to 6th round type prospect, so Saturday would be the day to focus in on, but his draft stock has been rising for weeks.
“I thought I’d get a combine invite and some sort of postseason bowl game invite, but that never came,” Forbes told HERO Sports this week. “It was disappointing to me but I kept working. I knew I wanted to do two Pro Days (SEMO’s and Missouri Western’s) … I didn’t know I’d fly up so quickly after that.”
Forbes, who had gone media silent for several weeks at the request of his agent, told HERO Sports this week that he has been on seven visits to meet with NFL teams. He said he could go public with six of them — the Vikings, 49ers, Falcons, Packers, Browns and Jets. He also said he has had workouts with the Lions, Falcons and Cardinals.
So … to say he’s been “flying up the charts” may be a bit of an understatement.
Forbes is hardly an unknown quantity at the FCS level, a HERO Sports All-American. He was a cornerstone in upstart SEMO’s playoff effort last fall, helping pave the way for talented RB Marquis Terry and the Redhawks’ offensive attack. But outside of the FCS ranks, he wasn’t well known. The guard prospect had to earn that, and earn it he has.
Forbes modeled his game after former SEMO standout Dan Connolly, another lunch-pail type interior lineman who was an all-conference performer at SEMO before moving on to play mostly with the New England Patriots in the NFL. He was undrafted, but he holds a Super Bowl ring instead of a thin piece of paper proclaiming his draft status.
The meat market stuff went well for Forbes. His top Pro Day numbers included a 40-yard dash time that would have been top five for offensive linemen at the NFL Combine, as well as Top 10 range marks in the bench press, vertical jump and the 3-cone technique. Bottom line? He belonged in Indy for the Combine, and had to wait a month to prove it at two quaint Pro Days … but that’s exactly what he did, without all the cameras and hype around.
Maybe it’s maturity that has helped Forbes get to this point. He’s married, which keeps him grounded. He’s at the least heralded position in football as an interior lineman, yet it’s a spot where a good one can last 15 years in the league while flashier running backs last five. Oh, and there’s that FCS thing … where even though it’s Division I football, often the players are virtually ignored, nationally.
It’s been a whirlwind experience. Just the team visits alone have been eye-opening.
“I’ve had some interesting moments, like when I saw Richard Sherman’s locker (at San Francisco) and I thought, ‘You’re not supposed to be here,'” Forbes said. “And seeing Baker Mayfield’s locker in Cleveland. When I went on my first visit, I was nervous, but when I was done I couldn’t wait for the next one. Each time I’ve gotten better at it.”
There’s nothing like being recruited … by NFL teams. Especially when you weren’t exactly recruited out of high school by all of the big colleges. Forbes is the poster boy in that department.
Southeast’s 2018 football campaign broke new ground and brought the university countless awards, but there may still be more to come for a handful of seniors that participated in a pro day at Houck Field on March 26.
Among five Redhawks participating in the pro day was offensive lineman Drew Forbes, a three-year starter who has been on the radar of National Football League scouts since the summer. Forbes, who participated in a pro day at Missouri Western just a week before, improved across the board, most notably knocking his 40-yard dash time from a 4.98 to a 4.90.
The fastest time among offensive linemen at the NFL combine a month ago was 4.89.
“I think I did well,” Forbes said. “I think I can always do better, I have some pretty high expectations of myself. I really enjoyed it, getting to come out here with some of the other seniors from this year who had a successful year.”
Those other seniors included fellow All-American running back and Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year Marquis Terry, defensive lineman Reggie Miles and linebackers Demarcus Rogers and Marcus Goree. The group also included Missouri S&T linebacker Landon Compton.
The test of athleticism began indoors at 9 a.m., where all players conducted the bench press and vertical leap. Afterward, the group moved outdoors to do the broad jump, 40-yard dash, shuttle and other drills, including positional work.
Heading into the pro day, both Terry and Forbes knew what to expect.
“Basically everything is going to be laid out there,” Forbes said. “Your physicality, how well you perform in space and motion, your feet. I know what I’m capable of, and I need to go do it under control but at a high pace and with intensity.”
Forbes earned a plethora of honors following his senior campaign, including several All-American honors as well as being named Phil Steele’s Football Championship Subdivision Offensive Lineman of the Year. His efforts the entire season helped pave the way for Terry, who ran for 1,229 yards, including an OVC-record 311 against Southern Illinois University on Sept. 15. Terry finished with 1,625 all-purpose yards. Due to lingering ankle and knee injuries, Terry was limited to just the opening series in the Redhawks’ loss to Weber State in the second round of the FCS playoffs.
“It was a great experience,” Terry said. “I kind of treat it like any other day, just come out here and perform. Everything I feel like I can improve on. Just being consistent and more repetition, I feel like I can get better at.”
Terry and Forbes both noted they had spoken with a few of the scouts before, and did so after the pro day as well. Forbes said he already had several interviews with NFL representatives and expected more going forward.
The senior Redhawks — as well as Compton — are trying to follow the footsteps of former Southeast players Kendall Donnerson and Mike Ford. The former was drafted in the seventh round by the Green Bay Packers last year and the latter signed as an undrafted free agent with the Detroit Lions, where he played in seven games and recorded 24 tackles.
Among the eight NFL teams at the pro day were the Los Angeles Rams, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets, Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints.
Rogers started for Southeast and finished the season with 81 tackles, good for fifth on the team. Miles and Goree were spot starters for the Redhawks.
In less than a month, the players will find out how much they impressed the scouts.