Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Texas, Iowa State step up on pro-day circuit
By David Ubben
Less than half of Big 12 teams have a chance to see one of their players selected in the first round of next month's NFL draft, but Texas is certainly one. Safety Kenny Vaccaro was on display at Tuesday's pro day, but after Vaccaro did only position drills for the NFL teams in attendance (including Pittsburgh, represented by head coach Mike Tomlin), the biggest headline was a player long gone from the 40 Acres.
Texas' last national title figuratively came from the hands of quarterback Vince Young, but literally came from his feet as he got loose for the scramble the Longhorns will never forget. He's been through a lot since then -- a Rookie of the Year award followed by a knee injury and a slide off NFL rosters in the midst of financial troubles -- but he was back Tuesday to try to revive his career. He didn't work out or speak to the media, but he went through a throwing session and received largely positive reviews.
"Somebody's going to hit the lottery" if they sign Vince Young, coach Mack Brown told reporters.
That's an ambitious statement, sure, but following Young's road over the next few months should be fascinating.
Vaccaro didn't run a 40-yard dash on Tuesday because of a hip-flexor injury, but the Longhorns' offensive speedsters were on display, too. Receiver Marquise Goodwin already made a big splash with a 4.27 40-time at the combine, but the Olympic long jumper also posted a 42-inch vertical Tuesday.
"I am really just trying to get one team out of the 32 to fall in love with me," Texas receiver Marquise Goodwin, right, said of his NFL hopes.
"I am not a track guy trying to play football. I am a football player. I got invited to the Senior Bowl, did well. I got invited to the combine, did really well. Now I am here at Pro Day, and I did really well here," Goodwin told reporters. "So hopefully people recognize that I actually am a football player by now. I am really just trying to get one team out of the 32 to fall in love with me."
Running back D.J. Monroe -- he of "Why can't Texas get him the ball?" fame -- only made those questions louder with an impressive 4.38 40.
"I just wanted to show them that not only can I run, but I can also catch passes, too. So I lined up in the slot, which is another of my favorite positions, which I kind of played growing up," Monroe told reporters. "So I showed I can line up in the slot and do things that I normally did, or did things I did when I was little or in high school."
Defensive end Alex Okafor also posted a 4.88 40 time and bench-pressed 225 pounds 21 times.
"For the most part I am happy,” Okafor told ESPN HornsNation. "I am still getting some of the rust off and getting to 100 percent. Running, I could have done a little better. But I’m not too disappointed. Out here on the field where it counts I thought I did really well."
Up in Ames, Iowa, meanwhile, a pair of linebackers had a lot to prove. A.J. Klein tweaked his knee at the combine, but went through position drills after posting a 4.66 40 time in Indianapolis last month.
His teammate, Jake Knott, missed the second half of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery, but his 20 reps on the bench press made it seem like his recovery has gone well.
He also went through position drills.
"I think they just needed to see me move out there for the first time," Knott told the Des Moines Register. "From what I heard after, they liked a lot, which was good."
A pair of unheralded Cyclones who didn't get combine invites also made a splash. Receiver Josh Lenz posted a blazing 4.35 in the 40-yard dash and bench-pressed 225 pounds 21 times. Considering he's only 6-feet tall and 200 pounds, that's pretty impressive.
Defensive lineman Jake McDonough reached 37 reps on bench press, which would have been third-most at the combine.
"It’s building up to like the biggest day of your life,” McDonough told the Register. "It’s deciding whether or not you’re going to make it to your dream job, basically. We’ve worked our tails off to get to that point."