The Arkansas players that are done with their eligibility (and a few old hands) were present Thursday as NFL scouts and coaches were on campus to put them through workouts and individual interviews.
There was little question that the major attraction Thursday was free safety Ken Hamlin, who declared for the NFL draft and bypassed his final year of eligibility.
Hamlin flew in from Houston where he's been working with personal trainers and NFL veterans in preparations for the workouts and the draft. Apparently, Hamlin did well. Scouts and coaches smiled throughout the day as they put Hamlin through the paces.
As this reporter visited with Hamlin well after the workouts were completed, a Green Bay scout passed by us in the hallway of the Broyles Center. He patted Hamlin on the back, then looked at this reporter and said, "You are talking to a great one there."
Hamlin said he weighed 207 pounds, 9 pounds up from his playing weight of the last two seasons. He measured at 6-2 1/2. He said he clocked 4.49 in the 40-yard dash via an electronic timer.
"I think all of my times were between 4.49 and 4.52 today, so that was good," he said. "As far as what I did at the (NFL) combine in Indianapolis, I improved in almost every area. I felt like I had a good day, and that goes for the position drills that the coaches put me through."
Hamlin said he wasn't sure of every team that had position coaches at the event, but recognized coaches from Indianapolis, Seattle, Dallas and Houston. Usually, the teams send scouts unless there is a special prospect, then they might send a position coach to check out that player.
"I'm sure there were some other teams that sent a defensive back coach, but those are the ones that I know sent in the coach for the secondary," Hamlin said. "They were all saying nice things and patting me on the back, but I know not to take too much of that serious. They all act like I'm doing good, but you never know."
Hamlin said he participated in every personal interview that was requested. As always, he was asked about his two DUI violations between his sophomore and junior years.
"I'm ready for that and am glad to talk about it," Hamlin said. "That's me. I did it. I have to confront it. I think I answered all of their questions, and am ready for whatever they have. It's not something you can hide.
"I really think today was a good day. I think I improved my stock. I think they liked my individual secondary workouts. But, we'll see.
"I'm not really concerned about what team likes me. I just want an opportunity. It's kind of like when I came here. They needed a safety, and there was playing time. It's all about fitting in with the right opportunity. That's more important than the team right now ... the opportunity."
Hamlin hails from Memphis, Tenn., but is spending the winter in Houston working out with personal trainers.
"I'm at Pro Athletic," he said. "I'm working with some DBs, Bubba McDowell and Aaron Glenn. I start out in the morning with DBs in the morning, then go to the weight room at 11 a.m. Then, it's off to the track to work with Floyd Heard on sprinting. It's a 9 to 5 job. I know this, we are sweating as much as anyone in the country. It's a hard day, but it's helping me.
"I'm up in weight a little, but I think it's all lean muscle. I don't see that it has slowed me down. I feel good and I think what I've done has helped me. I've always worked hard, and I look at these days with the scouts and coaches as a chance to show what I've done. I thought I'd be nervous, but I was not."
Other Arkansas players working out for the scouts were Pervis Osborne, Fred Talley, Raymond House, Gavin Walls and Chrys Chukwuma.
Talley said a wrist injury prevented him from doing some of the workouts for the NFL scouts, but he did dazzle with a 4.33 clocking in the 40-yard dash.
"That was pretty much the fastest," Talley said. "I'm down in weight, at 179 now. I played a lot at 190, so that's a concern. I can get that weight back. I had been sick the last couple of days and have lost some weight.
"I think they think I'm a little light. They are coming back to test us again March 26, so I think I can have some weight back by then. I think I've had a bit of the flu."
Talley said several NFL teams have examined his shoulder, and all have recommended that he skip surgery, that they think it has healed properly.
"I am not going to have the shoulder surgery," he said. "I can lift with it fine now. It's my wrist that I hurt lifting that is bothering me now. It will be okay in a week."
Talley said NFL scouts tell them that they are looking at him as a tailback and a kickoff return specialist.
"They really are talking a lot about being a kick returner," he said. "That's good with me. I like that fine. I think they do know I can play running back, too."
Walls said he was disappointed with his performance.
Walls, a defensive end, was disappointed with his performance, especially his times in the various runs.
"I'm up 13 pounds to 230, and that made me too slow," he said. "I see that now. I've got to lose some weight before the next workout, or at least do a lot more running to make sure my times are down.
"They are talking about me being an outside linebacker, and I know that speed is the most important factor there."
Chukwuma has bounced around with various XFL and indoor leagues, and has had near misses with several NFL teams. He weighed a career-high 244 on Thursday, maybe 10 pounds above his highest previous playing weight.
"I was 225 in college, but I've been 235 the last few years," he said. "I'm heavy now, and need to drop a few. I ran okay today in the early runs, but I pulled up in the 40 because of a groin injury. They still put me down with a 4.59 and a 4.7 on that run. I can do better than that. I had the second fastest times in the 10 and 20 (behind Talley)."
Chukwuma said he has had feelers from several NFL teams, including Dallas, Houston and Kansas City.
Raymond House, a defensive end, improved his 40 time since the combine, clocking 4.98 on Thursday.
Hamlin Performs for Scouts
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