Westbrook lands UDFA deal with Titans

Simon Stepaniak was Indiana’s only drafted player Saturday.

But that same day, one more fifth-year grad received an NFL shot.

Hoosier receiver Nick Westbrook inked an undrafted free agent deal late Saturday night with the Tennessee Titans, joining the Packers sixth-rounder Stepaniak as another contender to represent the cream and crimson at the next level.

Westbrook, a native of Lake Mary, Fla., pulled in 42 receptions for 572 yards and five touchdowns in 2019. A team captain alongside Stepaniak, the 6-foot-3, 219-pound pass-catcher appeared in a program-record 52 games during his IU career, including 36 starts.

His breakout season came in 2016 as a true sophomore, hauling in 54 passes for 995 yards and six scores. But the following season, Westbrook suffered a season-ending ACL injury on the first play of the opener versus No. 2 Ohio State.

Westbrook recovered to have two more productive seasons in Bloomington, and he was mentioned as a standout performer at the East-West Shrine Bowl. Then again, it was still a very unconventional NFL draft process. Westbrook was training out in Seattle as the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread, forcing him to return home to Florida to perform very rudimentary workouts at home, such as lifting sandbags used to hold down lighting equipment for his father’s photography work.

“It’s kind of fun at the same time to be able to say I’m going through this and hopefully if everything works out, I’ll get in the league and look back at my story and my journey and how I was able to do that and how I was basically doing Rocky workouts in my backyard and driveway,” Westbrook said.

His name wasn’t called during this weekend’s draft, but he still gets an opportunity to compete for a roster spot with the Titans. Earlier in the week, IU coach Tom Allen said he talked with his players about seizing such opportunities.

“As I told them, you just need one team to believe in you, one team to give you a chance,” Allen said. “And when they do, you show you belong. I feel confident we’ll have some guys that’ll have that opportunity. It’s an exciting time still, even though it’s a different format than we’ve had in the past, in the many things that were cut short in the process of the draft.”

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