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Monday, March 1, 2010
Troy players get combine training on campus

By Graham Watson

Like he has for the past few years, Richard Shaughnessy will be taking a special interest in today’s NFL scouting combine events.

Troy has three players participating in the defensive line and linebacking drills today, and Shaughnessy, the team’s strength and conditioning coach for the past 15 years, prepared each player for the day’s events.

“As far back as DeMarcus [Ware] and Osi [Umenyiora], we started training players here with great success,” Shaughnessy said. “Most of the guys have had the most success when they have stayed here. My thinking on that is that if I’ve got them for four or five years, how much can someone who has them for about a month or two to be able to make that drastic of a change? So, it’s just turned into a situation where a lot of our guys have just ended up staying here and training with us.”

Every draft-eligible player Troy has this year stayed on campus to train with Shaughnessy, including defensive ends Brandon Lang and Cameron Sheffield, who are expected to be mid-round draft picks. Linebacker Boris Lee and quarterback Levi Brown, who also had combine invites, also stayed on campus to train. Shaughnessy helped train several seniors who might not get drafted, but he thinks will end up in camps across the NFL.

The reason so many players have stayed on campus with Shaughnessy is because of the level of success the Trojans have had in sending players to the NFL. The Trojans have had 28 players selected in the draft, including two in the first round -- Ware and cornerback Leodis McKelvin, who were both trained by Shaughnessy. Shaughnessy also worked with Umenyiora and safety Sherrod Martin, who were both second-rounders.

Shaughnessy said he’s also developed a great relationship with scouts because he runs the team’s pro day. Since Troy has produced a couple of first- and second-rounders in recent history, scouts tend to flock to the school more often. Shaughnessy knows what certain scouts are looking for and can tailor a program toward those needs. The fact that he’s worked with the players throughout their college careers, helps him know whether he can get them to a certain level and just how far he can push them.

“The success of DeMarcus and Osi have put scouts in a position when they come here, and if I tell them that this kid can play, they can play,” Shaughnessy said. “I don’t ever sugarcoat it. I tell them who can play and who can’t. And I haven’t been off much on where a kid ends up getting drafted. Even though I know there’s a lot that goes into it, I’ve been really close on a lot of that stuff. I feel comfortable being able to predict their athleticism and what a team may look for.”

Shaughnessy said the key to creating top draft picks from a smaller school like Troy is getting them prepared early. The school will host a junior day in April, in which many of the upcoming juniors will run several of the same drills that are run at the combine. Shaughnessy said he also tests 40 times, vertical leap and works on bench pressing 225 pounds in February. Preparation, he said, is half the battle of getting to the NFL.

“We’ve had guys at the top of different categories at every position, so I feel confident with what we’re doing here,” Shaughnessy said. “It’s some of the same stuff we kind of go through during the year anyway. And the guys who are going through junior day, they kind of get some of it, too, so they kind of get the exposure a couple years out.

“I think that our kids have earned a respect now.”