There were television cameras, commentators whispering every statistic, every eye watching how they ran, how they jumped, how they lifted.
The NFL Combine was a long, nerve-jarring experience for Kentucky defensive stars Bud Dupree and Za'Darius Smith and running back Braylon Heard.
But Pro Day at Nutter Field House on Thursday morning felt much more like home.
"Being with my brothers and teammates, it's always different when you're with people you actually played with," Dupree said after participating in several positional drills for the 36 scouts representing 26 NFL teams. "Different vibe out there than the combine was."
And as much as Dupree has to think about his future, which probably will include hearing his name called in the first round of the NFL Draft in a few weeks, he couldn't help but get goose bumps watching teammates as they tried to impress scouts as well.
"It was real exciting to see other people do good, too," Dupree said. "I loved it."
Dupree, Smith, Heard and 15 other ex-Cats worked out in front of the crowd of NFL scouts, which included three head coaches: Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Zimmer of the Minnesota Vikings and Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals.
All of the NFL bosses stayed for the entire event and got a facilities tour from UK head coach Mark Stoops earlier in the morning.
Seeing NFL head coaches and big-name visitors on campus has been a rarity at the past few Pro Days.
"Today's a little bit more like some of the old days," Stoops said. "I was at Miami, Florida State; you start getting some head coaches in here and GMs. Things like that. It's good to see a good crowd here."
While many of them were there to get a good look at Dupree, who told reporters later that he's been invited to the NFL Draft in Chicago, the Kentucky head coach said he expected several other players to get a shot as well.
"Even the guys that don't get talked about much, they're definitely going to have a great chance to make it in the NFL and play, and quite a few of these guys are going to make teams and have great futures," Stoops said of the 18 players who worked out, including Cats two years removed from the program in Jonathan George, Raymond Sanders, Anthony Kendrick and Craig McIntosh.
Scouts were able to see unheralded players such as tight end Steven Borden, who had 21 reps in the bench press, which would've been good enough for fourth in his position group at the combine this year.
Smith was able to improve on his 40-yard dash times from a few weeks ago, going from a 4.83 at the combine to a 4.72 Thursday. That would've been good enough to tie him for third for defensive linemen at the combine.
"The main thing I was working on was my running, and I improved on it," said Smith, who said he's meeting with the Ravens, Falcons, Bears and others.
While other UK students will hit the beach next week for spring break, Dupree will be hitting the road for scheduled meetings and workouts with several teams, including the Bengals, San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers and Indianapolis Colts among others.
Dupree, who said he went through positional drills Thursday to show scouts that he'd healed from a nagging groin injury, made a lasting impression on one of those teams.
During a tackling drill, Bengals defensive line coach Jay Hayes didn't get out of the way fast enough before Dupree came right at him.
"I know he got a workout today trying to come off against me," Dupree said with a sheepish grin. "He didn't throw his hands. I got there too quick. By that time, I just tried to go power around him."
It drew a laugh from Hayes and the gallery, which included dozens of current Cats, who showed up to cheer on their teammates.
It was good for the younger players to ponder their futures and see how the daily work they do with Erik Korem and Kentucky's high-performance coaches helps, Stoops said.
He saw lots of examples Thursday that hard work pays off.
"These guys did things right on the field and off the field, and that's why they're in the position that they're in," Stoops said. "It's great for our young players to see that."