Tiger Players Show Their Stuff for NFL Scouts

National Football League scouts visited Auburn on Tuesday to test the Tigers at AU's annual NFL Pro Day.

Auburn, Ala.--It wasn't a star-studded NFL Pro Day by Auburn's standards, but that didn't prevent a variety of Auburn football players from testing well on Tuesday in front of an audience of scouts.

For a player like running back Brad Lester, the session was a success. He clocked two 40-yard dash times under 4.5 seconds, bench-pressed 225 pounds 18 times, did an impressive 10 feet four inches on the standing broad jump, leaped 38 1/2 inches on the vertical jump and tested well in other drills.

"I was real nervous coming in to the pro day because I knew it was my only chance to show the scouts what I could do," said Lester, who did not receive an invitation to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. "I actually threw up two or three times before the workout I was so nervous.

"Once I got started and ran my 40, I was all right," the running back said. "I feel like I did very, very well and set myself up to be drafted by somebody."

Another Tiger who tested well was linebacker Merrill Johnson, who did an impressive 40 inches on the vertical jump and ran one of his 40-yard dash times under 4.5 on some of the NFL scouts' stopwatches.

On one of his two 40s he slipped on his start. "I am going to try to find somewhere else to run it (for the scouts) and see if I can do a better time," he said. However, all things considered Johnson was happy. "Other than that, I think I had a pretty decent day."

Johnson, who had battled injuries the last year, said being healthy helped him test well. "I feel great now," he said.

One of the less-known seniors, walk-on wideout Charles Olatunji, had pro scouts taking notes on how he tested. He had pro day best leap of 42 inches in the vertical jump and did 11 feet 1 1/2 inches in the standing broad jump.

"I felt like I did pretty good, but I wish I had run a little better in the 40 and I could have done better in my route running," said Olatunji, who had times of 4.51 and 4.65 in the 40. "I had been running times under 4.5 in the 40 in training. Overall I am pretty happy since I didn't go to a training site because I am still in school getting ready to graduate."

Olatunji said that several pro scouts talked to him and told him he did a good job. "A scout for the Jacksonville Jaguars talked to me the most," he said.

Former Tiger Steve Gandy also did the pro tests. "I wanted to go back and give it one more shot," he said. "I think I did pretty good. I could have done better. I performed well last week at the CFL Combine and did better there."

Gandy, who gave up football after a series of concussions and a serious leg injury that required surgery, ran times of 4.63 and 4.68 in the 40 and worked out as a safety although he played linebacker for the Tigers.

Tristan cradles a pass thrown by former Auburn QB Brandon Cox.

The former player showed he had been working in the weight room doing 14 reps of 225 pounds. Defensive tackle Tez Doolittle was the leader in the bench press with 22 reps followed by Lester and Tristan Davis with 18 while walk-on fullback Ryan Hastie and Merrill Johnson with 17 were next.

"I am too small to play linebacker so safety is my spot," said Gandy, who noted that he feels like he is back to full speed, pointing out that he believed his body needed a rest from football. He said he would like to put the pads on again and see what he can do.

Walk-on deep snapper Robert Shiver tested well for the pros. He ran times of 4.68 and 4.71 in the 40 and did nine feet, nine inches in the standing broad jump plus 13 reps on the bench press. "I felt like I had a good pro day although I felt like my 40 times could have been better," he said. "I snapped well and hopefully turned a couple of scouts' heads with the drills and we will take it from here.

"I talked to a couple of the pro scouts and a couple of others want to talk to me, too," Shiver added. "It looks like things are going in the direction it needs to be going in. Hopefully, I will get a few workouts for pro teams."

Sen'Derrick Marks talks with Jerraud Powers on Pro Day.

Pro Day Notes: Running back Tristan Davis ran both of his hand-timed 40-yard dashes on artificial turf under 4.5 seconds. He said he hoped to get into the 4.3s like teammate James Swinton, but was happy with his overall performance...Cornerback Jerraud Powers ran under 4.5 in the 40, too, and did a 35-inch vertical jump...LB Chris Evans said he expected to run better times. He ran a 4.79 40, about two-tenths of a second off what he hoped to run...Tez Doolittle, the defensive tackle who came back from a ruptured Achilles tendon injury that could have ended his career in 2007, was in excellent shape for the pro day and ran a 4.99 40. He said he was pleased with the time...Offensive guard Tyronne Green, who tested at the NFL Combine, did not run the 40 or do the bench press. He did eight feet, six inches in the standing broad jump...Former N.C. State player Jeremy Gray from Opelika High, the son of former Auburn cornerback Jimmie Warren, did the pro day workouts...Sen'Derrick Marks went nine feet, six inches in the standing broad jump, but took his NFL Combine time of 4.98. Marks did 16 reps on the bench press.


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