Cardinal players gear up for pro day

March, 22, 2012
3/22/12
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As flattering as the prospect may seem, David DeCastro knows ESPN isn't coming out to Stanford's pro day just to broadcast him running offensive-line drills. He knows the score. He knows most of the attention will be trained on quarterback Andrew Luck.

But don't be surprised if the burly offensive guard gets more face time than any other Stanford player. Besides doing his individual workouts, he'll also be making a temporary move to center to snap for Luck.

You can watch the Cardinal's pro day at 11 a.m. Pacific/2 p.m. Eastern on ESPN3. Besides Luck and DeCastro, offensive tackle Jonathan Martin and tight end Coby Fleener will also be featured. Luck, DeCastro and Fleener are expected to be the first players taken at their positions, and Martin is projected anywhere between the second and fourth offensive tackle on the board.

"It's pretty crazy, because we couldn't even get a game televised a couple of years ago," DeCastro said. "That pretty much sums it up. Now they are televising our pro day. Crazy. The program has come a long way. If we can get it televised every year, that would be great."

A lot of eyes will be on Luck, who didn't throw at last month's NFL combine. He's expected to be the No. 1 pick of the Indianapolis Colts in next month's NFL draft. Yesterday, Baylor's Robert Griffin III held his pro day in Waco, Texas. While some think there is a chance the Colts could roll the dice with Griffin, he's widely regarded as No. 2 quarterback behind Luck.

[+] EnlargeStanford's Andrew Luck and David DeCastro
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesAll eyes will be on Andrew Luck, left, during Stanford's pro day, which means David DeCastro, right, will get plenty of looks too.
Here's an interesting take from ESPN's Mel Kiper Insider on quarterbacks not throwing at the combine.
Last year, as you recall, Cam Newton's pro day was quite a big deal, because the top quarterbacks no longer throw at the combine, instead waiting for a more familiar setting, with targets they are used to working with. I don't mind that process. If you're considered this good, why not take advantage of the comfort level you've earned as you go through the process. These guys get nit-picked more than ever, so it's hard to blame them for taking control of something as significant as many consider these pro days.

But today isn't going to be all about Luck. It's the payoff for many of the players who helped grow the program.

"That's got to be one of the things I'm most proud of in my time at Stanford is helping turn the program around from a 1-11 season the year before I got there to two straight BCS games," Fleener said. "It's one of those things where it took a lot of work from the guys in the offseason and the coaches and the staff, and I'm happy to see Stanford football is on the right track.

"Hopefully this publicity is going to help the program, even in a small way. Anything we can do to help the program is great. We're all going to be Stanford fans for life."

Head coach David Shaw often praised this class of fourth- and fifth-year seniors for buying into the program he and former head coach Jim Harbaugh were pitching. He thinks the legacy they leave will help keep Stanford atop the national rankings for years to come.

"We don't just want smart guys that know how to play football," Shaw said. "We want great football players. We want guys to come here that want to play in the NFL, that want to be first-round draft picks. We want them to have that desire. We also want those guys to excel outside of football. When you've got a class of guys like this who can garner this much attention, it's awesome. And as you can see from the way we've been recruiting the last couple of years, [televised pro days] hopefully will be a regular occurrence for us."

There are also several other Stanford players who weren't invited to the combine, but will work out at the pro day. Because of the attention Luck attracts, many are considering this their combine.

And for those who did participate in the combine, it's one last chance to show what they can do before the draft.

"I'm excited," DeCastro said. "I'm feeling great. I'm in shape, lifting hard. Working out has never been an issue for me. I love training. I love getting that lift and getting those endorphins going."

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