Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers were hosts to their annual Pro Day on Monday with pro scouts, friends, family and the media on-hand to watch 14 former Auburn football players work out to try and impress before April’s NFL Draft.
Also there to watch the action was Gus Malzahn, who is entering his fourth season as the head coach of the Auburn program. He said that he was impressed with the performances he saw on Monday.
“This time of the year is always exciting to see these guys take the next step to try and improve and impress the scouts,” said Malzahn. “It looks like they are having a good time out there flying around. (I’m) very proud of the group.”
One of the former players participating in the pro day was former wide receiver D’haquille “Duke” Williams, who was dismissed from the team midway through the 2015 season after multiple suspensions. Williams worked in the vertical jump (30 1/2 inches), broad jump (10 feet, one inch), 40-yard dash (4.70 seconds), and position drills for the day. He declined to speak with the media after his session.
“I just decided to give him a chance for his future to show what he can do to the scouts,” Malzahn explained on why Williams was allowed to participate on Monday. “I made that call last week. He’s out here, and I wish him the best. I let him come out here. I felt like that was the right thing to do, and that was my decision.”
A top performer at the pro day was graduate transfer Blake Countess, who was not invited to the NFL combine. Countess posted solid times in all of the drills he participated in, which included the best vertical jump (36 1/2 inches), fastest 40 time (4.46) and fastest L-shuttle time (6.82). He also had 21 repetitions of the bench press at 225 pounds.
“Blake’s a football player,” said Malzahn. “I mean, he’s a football player from the word ‘go.’ For us he played safety, he played corner, he played nickel. He was one of our best special teams players. He just did a great job. He’s going to make some money.”
Possibly the most surprising early declaration from the Tigers came out of running back Peyton Barber. However, once news about his reasoning behind leaving Auburn early (trying to support his family) surfaced his decision was understandable.
“Peyton decided to come out,” Malzahn noted. “We’re rooting for him. It looked like he had a very good day. He did a good job at the combine, and he’s a young guy. I think he’s got a good upside. The thing about Peyton is he will protect, he’ll block, he runs with great pad level, he’s a tough guy. He was banged up a lot of the year, too. He’s the type of guy teams will be looking for.”
Barber finished the day with times of 4.53 seconds in the 40, 6.91 in the L-shuttle and 32 inches on the vertical jump.
There were a couple of past Auburn players in attendance to watch the events including current Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah. Former quarterback Chris Todd was also out there throwing for the passing drills. Malzahn joked afterwards about Todd saying that watching Todd throw “took me back to 2009” when he was in his first year as the offensive coordinator at Auburn.
“I’ll tell you what, I was a little disappointed,” Malzahn added. “One kind of got away from him. I had to catch myself from getting on him. Overall I think I’ll give him a B-plus. I thought he was on top of the ball. I thought his balance was good. Just that one got away from him over there on the right sideline.”