EVANSTON, Ill. – As he transitions from receiver to tight end, Robert Tonyan Jr. is on a 5,000- to 6,000-calories-a-day diet.
Fortunately for the former McHenry East quarterback, he is living at home as he trains for the NFL draft, which means mom's cooking.
"She's making four to five meals for me a day," Tonyan said Tuesday after a Pro Day workout at Northwestern University. "She's on board. She's on top of it, reminding me what to eat, letting me know when food is ready or my shake is ready. Love her, bless her for that. She's awesome. I can't thank her enough for that. She knows how bad I want this, and she's very supportive."
Whatever Tonyan is eating (and he said lasagna is his favorite), it is working, as the former Indiana State receiver and tight end is performing well in front of NFL scouts. Tuesday, with 30 NFL teams in attendance, he wanted to show off his blocking.
"I did well on blocking, just showing my in-line blocking," he said. "I haven't gotten a chance to show that to people, so the whole pro day got to see me block, which was a good thing as someone converting from receiver to tight end to show off."
Tonyan made the shift to tight end because of his frame and a better chance for longevity in a league that is looking for more hybrid tight ends who can block and catch.
"I think I can match up well with people in the NFL on defense with my size on the inside rather than on the outside," he said.
As the only tight end at the pro day, Tonyan did blocking drills solo in the position portion of the pro day.
"[The NFL team rep] said, 'Great for a first-time guy doing it.' I can obviously get stronger, and that's going to come with putting on more weight and size," Tonyan said. "Not too much (feedback) other than technique and that initial punch."
In his 40-yard dash, Tonyan said he ran it "in the 4.5," which at worst would put him sixth among the 14 tight ends who ran at the combine in Indianapolis. His vertical jump at a regional combine earlier this month was 38 inches, which would have ranked second at his position.
The next part of the pre-draft process is team visits, which Tonyan begins April 3 when he heads to Oakland to meet with the Raiders. As teams start researching Tonyan, he hopes they take a close look at his game tape when the Sycamores played Minnesota, when he had three touchdown catches and showed he could be physical with Big Ten talent.
It's a deep draft for the tight end position, but a player such as Tonyan, who can run like a receiver and understand the game like a quarterback, could find a spot on an NFL roster.
"Coming [to the pro day] and doing rather well – though I can always do better – but to do well in front of these scouts is a good feeling," he said.