Buckeyes Perform for NFL Scouts, Reflect on Buckeye Memories
By Tony Gerdeman
Ohio State held their Pro Day on Friday, as 17 departing Buckeyes worked out for two UFL teams and 29 NFL teams. For most of the participants, it was their first chance to work out in front of their hopeful future employers, as only a few Buckeyes were invited to last month’s NFL Combine.
It was an event that at times was tense - as mothers and girlfriends watched nervously, and other times fairly jovial - while former Buckeyes (James Laurinaitis, for instance) came back to support this current crop of NFL hopefuls.
A handful of current Buckeyes were on hand as well. Spotted in the stands were Mike Adams, J.B. Shugarts, Brian Rolle, Chimdi Chekwa, Nic Dilillo, Donnie Evege, Boom Herron, DeVier Posey, Duron Carter and several others. In fact, Duron Carter brought some McDonald’s with him and was passing out fries as he watched former teammates running their forty-yard dashes.
Robert Rose and Ray Small, who were both suspended for the Rose Bowl, participated in the day’s events as well. Also, former Buckeyes Ryan Pretorius and Jamario O’Neal were on hand to give it another go.
Overall, the players who spoke afterward were happy with their performances. One, who shall remain nameless (until he is named below, of course), was actually surprisingly pleased after posting a 5.36 forty-yard dash.
Photo by Jim Davidson
* Todd Denlinger had to pull up while running his forty-yard dash. He tweaked his hamstring, but it was nothing too serious. He wasn't sure he was going to be able to make it all the way anyway, and he didn't want to push it because he still wanted to be able to do the rest of the drills, which he did. He got up 26 reps on the bench press, which was about where he expected to be. Interestingly, a sometime two-way player as a Buckeye, he sees a possibility on the offensive side of the ball in the NFL as well.
“To be honest, I think I can play on both sides of the ball,” he said. “I think I can maybe even be molded into an offensive lineman. Maybe be an early-down defensive tackle. The list kind of goes on and on what I could do. I think I’d be a good asset to a team. I may not be the best athlete in these types of drills, but at the same time, I can bring a lot of other things to a team.”
Photo by Jim Davidson
* Jake Ballard also had a hamstring issue, so he didn't run the forty-yard dash because he wanted to be able to do all of the other drills. He was disappointed that he couldn't showcase all of his skills because he knows he's seen as a blocking tight end and he wanted to show the scouts he could run.
“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “I was hoping to come out here and surprise a lot of people and get my name on the map. I’m labeled as a blocking tight end and all of the scouts and teams think I’m just a slow blocking tight end. So I really wanted to surprise them.”
He is hopeful, however, that one of the teams will come back around in a couple of weeks so that he can run his forty and there will be a legit time for him being passed around the league.
* Rob Rose ran an official 4.79 in his forty-yard dash weighing in at 295 pounds. After his off-field issues which saw him miss the Rose Bowl, he readily admitted that this was a very important day for him.
“This is a huge day,” he said. “This is my combine. I was preparing very, very hard for it. I’ve been preparing ever since I couldn’t make the trip out to California. I’ve been working hard and it’s starting to pay off for me a little bit.”
He also said he was “content” with his performance, but still feels he could have done better.
When talking about who looked good during the workouts, Rose was asked about Thaddeus Gibson. His response: "Thaddeus always looks good."
Oh, and because he's been watching his weight and working out for the last six weeks, Rose said he was going to Golden Corral afterwards to “pig out”.
Photo by Jim Davidson
* After running a disappointing 4.71 forty at the NFL Combine, Thaddeus Gibson came into the Pro Day wanting to significantly improve that number…and he did. His run was followed by “oohs” and “ahs” from the scouts and players alike. His time? A blistering 4.51. Of course, others had him around the 4.56 mark, but that is still a tremendous improvement running on the same type of surface that he ran on at the Combine. He said he heard "real good things" after the combine, and today didn't do anything but help him. Gibson mentioned that the Saints pulled him aside today and talked to him, as did the Steelers. He is set to graduate following spring quarter.
* Kurt Coleman came into the day wanting to show he was fast enough to play both corner and safety, so he was pleased with his 4.48 time in the forty. And amazingly, he wasn't totally healthy coming into the day…until a miracle happened.
“Today, God came down and said ‘You’re going to be healed today’, so I felt good,” Coleman joked. “This is the best I’ve felt in three or four months.”
Coleman said that he definitely wants to be a safety, but wants to show his versatility. Right now, some teams are talking to him about initially being a nickel back who can do multiple things, which he thinks suits him well. He has a workout with New England set up soon.
Photo by Jim Davidson
* Doug Worthington felt he did well on the day. He had a 35.5" vertical and a 10’1" broad jump, which are pretty good for a guy his size. He was running the forty on tweaked calves, but was told some had him in the 4.9s, though while watching him run, I saw Eric Lichter tell him 5.+ on both runs. On where he feels he will play at the next level, he has a couple of ideas.
“I can play a 3-4 defensive end,” he said, while mulling his options. “I can bulk up. I can be 300-pounds easy. This 290 is actually pretty light. Anywhere they want to put me. I played every position at Ohio State. I can play end, I can play nose tackle--though I’d probably need to gain 15-20 pounds. I’m willing to do anything.”
He has talked to Miami, Minnesota, Arizona, Atlanta and Indianapolis.
* Austin Spitler did 32 reps on the bench press and ran a 4.65 and a 4.75. And according to the scouts, they were surprised a bit at what they saw.
“They just said I had a really productive day,” he recalled. “They were happy. I definitely improved what they thought I was going to do--I did better. So it can’t hurt you. I’m really happy the way it came out.”
He's currently being projected as a middle linebacker. He has had a lot of talks with the Miami Dolphins. Bill Parcells has specific characteristics he looks for in players. Apparently for linebackers, there are seven characteristics Parcells likes, and the Dolphins told him he had all seven.
Photo by Jim Davidson
* Jim Cordle did some long snapping drills as well as his offensive line drills today. It had been five years since he had long-snapped, but he said he won the long-snapping award when he camped at Ohio State as a high-schooler, so he knew what he was doing. The scouts said he did well, but was a bit slow. But he said he can obviously get quicker with more practice. He got up 23 reps on the bench press and was disappointed because he had gotten up 25 the last two times he tried. He ran a 5.36 in the forty-yard dash and was…pleased?
“My time--I think they had me at a 5.36 on both of them, which is honestly good for me,” he admitted. “I heard high-5.2 to 5.3, but that was from players, and who knows what they were doing.”
He said teams are looking at him at an interior spot, likely center. Jim Bollman was passing out his center tapes during the combine as well. He said he also felt he could also be an emergency tackle if need be. But his versatility is definitely a plus. Lastly, in an effort to make sure he weighed 300-pounds for his Pro Day, he went to Hometown Buffet the other day because he said scouts have a psychological thing about linemen who don't weigh 300 pounds.
Photo by Jim Davidson
* Ray Small said his workout went pretty well. He ran a 4.42 initially and then followed that up with a 4.5. He's been working out two times per day, six days per week up in Cleveland. Carolina, New Orleans, the New York Giants, Cleveland and Tampa Bay have talked to him. He has a workout scheduled with the Browns. When asked where he'd like to go, he said emphatically "Somewhere hot!", then also noted that he wouldn't be skipping his Cleveland workout.
* Anderson Russell ran a 4.41 electronic time in his forty-yard dash. He only dropped one pass during his drills. He spoke to the Steelers, but hasn’t really talked to a team about where they saw him playing. When asked about his lasting memory of his time at Ohio State, he reflected back on a couple of experiences.
“The two times the field got rushed when we beat Michigan, and then this year when we beat Iowa--I’ll never forget those,” he said. “Those were crazy. I thought it was just like a handful of people out there--but you see a picture and it’s like the whole entire field is full, so I’m definitely always going to remember both of those moments.”
* Anderson Russell mentioned that he, Todd Denlinger, Jake Ballard, Thaddeus Gibson, Austin Spitler and Kurt Coleman all went out to eat at local steak house the night before. Strength and conditioning coach Eric Lichter told them not to have steak, but apparently Russell was the only one in the group who listened, choosing instead to have tuna.
* Former Buckeye All-American James Laurinaitis was in attendance, and when asked what knowledge he was imparting to his former teammates, Kurt Coleman said "He was just cracking jokes, that's all he was doing out there."
* Because the Pro Day coincided with the Michigan-Ohio State basketball game, when there were no interviews going on, the media was congregated together watching the game on a couple of flat screens. Also watching the game in the same room were assistant coaches Luke Fickell and Nick Siciliano. And as the game grew closer, who should appear but Washington Redskins scout Schemy Schembechler - Bo’s son. He made a quip about maybe he shouldn’t be watching here…but like a Michigan Man, he stayed anyway. When Evan Turner’s shot found the bottom of the net - and after Luke Fickell jumped out of his chair with his arms extended - Schembechler quickly left the room like all Michigan Men eventually do. But then he came back shortly thereafter holding a picture of his father in a pose that depicted a man in great torment over something his team had undoubtedly just screwed up, and said that Bo was probably doing the exact same thing right now.
* Austin Spitler said that this group of seniors felt like a team all its own. But when asked what would happen if he has to face Jim Cordle on opposite sides at some point in the future, Spitler deadpanned, “I’ll try to hit him as hard as I can.”
* Jim Cordle mentioned that one of his lasting memories actually took place at his very first Spring Game as a true freshman. “Running onto the field the first time at the Spring Game. It was 20 degrees out. The rain was sideways. There were like 10,000 people in the stands. But it was the first time I was in uniform, and I was a Buckeye and running out there.”
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