AU Pro Day Participants Have Mixed Results

Participants in Auburn's NFL Pro Day comment on their performances in a report that includes photos plus testing results on who had a good day and who didn't.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's NFL Pro Day produced mixed results for the 13 former Tigers who participated in the event on Tuesday at the Auburn football complex.

For cornerback Walter McFadden, who expected to receive an invitation to participate in the NFL Combine but didn't, it was a huge day and he responded with a strong performance.

Walt McFadden runs the 40-yard dash.

For defensive end Antonio Coleman, who attended the combine but couldn't do all of the drills because of a quad muscle injury, Tuesday's event was a chance to improve his stock. The two-tine All-SEC player says he believes he did that.

For running back Ben Tate, who was impressive in everything he did at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, the pro day was a short, light workout with 38 pro scouts watching how he caught passes and did a series of running back specific drills. Tate, like Coleman, termed the day at success.

One of the players who had the biggest reason to be pleased about what happened was Gabe McKenzie, who worked out at both tight end and defensive end for the scouts and was impressive in all of the tests he took.

For several other Auburn athletes the pro day didn't go as well.

Defensive tackle Jake Ricks was frustrated by a hamstring he injured. After that he was limited in what he could do.

Former Auburn wide receiver Robert Dunn, who was a senior on the 2008 team, didn't show the kind of speed pro scouts are looking for when they make their draft picks.

Another former Tiger, tight end Robert Johnson, couldn't break 5.0 in the 40 and skipped several drills because of tightness in his hip.

Robert Johnson runs a pass route on Tuesday. The tight end lettered for the Tigers from 2000-2002 before skipping his senior season to enter the NFL Draft. Since then he has been trying to land a roster spot in the NFL.

"I think I had a good day," says McFadden, who finished up his career with an outstanding performance in Auburn's Outback Bowl victory over Northwestern. "Everybody said I ran good and I did my drills pretty good. A lot of scouts came up talking to me saying a lot of great things.

"Now, the only I have got to do is keep praying and see what happens," adds McFadden, who measured in at 5-11, 181 pounds. When he arrived at Auburn as freshman he weighed in the 150s.

NFL scouts wait on the players to warm up for the 40-yard dash.

McFadden admits he was disappointed about not getting a chance to test at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, but notes that made him more determined to prove himself on Tuesday.

"By having a lot of family who went through it and seeing a lot of people saying that you can go to the combine and still not get drafted, it was just a big thing for me," he points out. "I felt like I was just an underdog and it was another time for me to try to overcome it."

McFadden says he has heard that he could be drafted anywhere from early in the third round to the end of the late fifth round depending on how he performed at pro day. "I think I did a pretty good job," he says, adding that he was happy he weighed in at 181 pounds after hearing that pro scouts expected him to weigh less than that.

McFadden, who trained for pro day with Tom Shaw in Orlando and with his cousin, Patrick Peterson in Louisiana, bench pressed 225 pounds five times. Of the 13 players who tested, that was the low total. However, nobody was faster than the cornerback who was timed in the lows 4.4s and high 4.3s on different stop watches.

He also showed his explosiveness with a good standing broad jump of 10 feet, 3 1/2 inches and a 35 1/2 vertical jump.

McFadden plans to continue to work out prior to the NFL?Draft which is scheduled for April 22-24 in New York City as it switches from a two-day to a three-day format. The defensive back has a private worked scheduled for April 7th in Chicago with the Bears and says the word he received after his workout on Tuesday is that more will be coming based on the way he tested.

Defensive end Coleman notes that it was frustrating to be injured for the combine in Indianapolis. He was healthier for his workout in Auburn.

"For having a busted up quad I think I did pretty well,"?he says. "I don't know the times I ran, but I think they were pretty good. I did great in the drills so I think I was pretty solid."

Coleman was timed in the high 4.6s range to the high 4.7s on his two 40-yard dash times. He had been consistently running in the 4.6s during training before his injury.

"I was just trying to come out here and give them what they want and show them that I could play end or outside linebacker," he says. Coleman, who measured in at 6-1, 248 , worked out at both defensive end and outside linebacker.

"I'm excited to see what team picks me up," he says. "I can't control that. All I can do is work out for these guys when they want me to work out and show them that I'm one of the best defensive ends out there."

Antonio Coleman is airborne during the stand broad jump test.

Coleman mainly played end in a 4-3 front in college although he did get some time at outside linebacker when Will Muschamp was defensive coordinator and the Tigers ran a mixture of 4-3 and 3-4 fronts.

"It's kind of tough because 16 of the (NFL) teams are playing a 3-4 now, but whatever the case may be, I just want to play football," Coleman says on trying to show he can play linebacker. "I'm just looking for an opportunity. I know I'm a hard worker and I know I'll make a team."

Ben Tate photographs the workouts on Tuesday.

The only workout that Tate did on Tuesday was running back drills. Former Tiger Brad Lester, who played last season for the British Columbia Lions of the CFL, joined Tate for those drills and also did the full group of tests for the scouts.

Content to go with his test results from the combine, Tate says he never considered skipping the Auburn Pro Day. Commenting on his performance in Indianapolis, he says, "I wanted to come out at the combine and show everybody what I could do when the lights were on and all of the pressure was on. I did a good job so I felt like at pro day I didn't have to do the drills--the 40s and things like that. I just had to do the position drills and did a pretty good job.

"I came out and showed that I can catch the ball and that is what a lot of the scouts want to see," he adds.

Ben Tate runs after catching a pass for the scouts.

Tate notes that he plans to relax for a week or so and then get back into workout mode because after the draft NFL mini-camps are scheduled. Looking at the big picture going into the draft, based on his performances at pro day and the combine, Tate says, "I am very happy and really excited the way things are going now. I pray to God that they keep going well."

Chris Todd throws a pass while NFL coach and former Mississippi State head coach Sylvester Croom (left) scouts the prospects including running back Ben Tate (right).

McKenzie had a disappointing senior year on the field as a backup, but tested well on Tuesday. He weighed in at 256 and 6-2 1/2 and did well in every drill. He showed solid speed with most of the clockings on his 40s in the 4.7s. He showed strength with 22 reps in the bench press and the ability to jump with a 37-inch vertical and a standing broad jump of 10 feet, 3 1/2 inches.

Gabe McKenzie runs after a catch at the workout.

McKenzie notes that he trained hard for the pro day where he worked out at both tight end and defensive end. "I've been working at both and I've been working for it day and night," he says.

Gabe McKenzie prepares to do the bench press test. He did 22 reps of 225 pounds.

Senior Tommy Trott, who started ahead of McKenzie at tight end, is not interested in pro football after injuring his knee during his junior year and didn't participate in pro day. Another senior starter, offensive tackle Andrew McCain, has retired from football, too.

The most unusual participant at Auburn's pro day was Maurice Smith, a former Auburn track and field star who trains in Auburn with his college coach, Jerry Clayton. The 29-year-old decathlon star, who finished second in the event at the 2007 world championships, checked in at 6-1, 200 pounds.

A native of Jamaica, the two-time Olympian's only experience playing football has been in pickup games and intramural flag tag contests, but decided to give it a try. "It is kind of an off-year for track at the professional level so it was a perfect opportunity for me to come out here and see what I could do at the pro day," he says.

"I feel like I did pretty well," he adds. "I figured this kind of stuff wouldn't be very hard for me."

Maurice Smith has limited experience carrying a football.

Smith did well enough for several scouts to ask him for more information and now he is going to wait for a phone call for a private workout. If that doesn't come, he will continue to train for the decathlon. "I see myself as a receiver," Smith says. "I have good hands."

His coach, Clayton, notes that Smith can run sub 4.5 40s. However, on pro day his times were in the 4.5s to 4.6s depending on which scout was doing the timing. He had a 32 1/2 vertical jump, did 10 feet, two inches in the standing broad jump and 12 reps in the bench press.

Less pleased was Ricks, who became a starter for the first time as a senior. "For part I did before I got hurt, I think I did pretty good," he says. "I am upset that I pulled my hammy. I put a lot of work into this. I have been waiting on this day forever.

"Now I know what I have got to do--just get healthy," adds Ricks, who checked in a 6-2 6/10ths and 288 pounds. "I am pretty sure teams are going to call me in to come work out so know I will just focus on getting healthy in time for that."

Ricks, who was timed in the mid 4.9s to 5.0 in the 40, hurt his hamstring on his second 40.

Among the players from senior classes past who worked out, running back Brad Lester was the most impressive running both of his 40s in the 4.4s and tying for the most reps on the bench press at 22.

"I did okay, but I think I could have done even better," says Lester, who is hoping to make the jump from the CFL to the NFL this year.

Coming off a record-setting senior year for the Tigers, quarterback Chris Todd had perhaps the most impressive individual performance when he pulled off 13 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press. At this time last year, Todd was rehabbing from shoulder surgery and could not participate in spring drills.

Chris Todd does the vertical jump test.

"I was happy with my bench press and I really didn't know what to expect," Todd says. "I haven't been able to lift seriously for a long time.

"The pro day was a good experience getting to work out in front of a lot of coaches and throw in a serious atmosphere once again," Todd adds. "I think I made some good throws."

Auburn Pro Day Results

Antonio Coleman--6-1, 248 pounds; 40s-4.69, 4.78; vertical 33.5 inches; standing broad jump 9-8, 9-8.

Walter McFadden--5-11, 181 pounds. 40s-4.40, 4.39. 35.5-inch vertical; standing broad jump 10-3 1/2, 10-1; bench press 5 reps of 225 pounds.

Gabe McKenzie--6-2 1/2, 256 pounds; 40s 4.80, 4.74; vertical 36 and 37 inches; standing broad jump 10-2, 10-4; bench press 22 reps.

Jake Ricks--6-2 1/2, 288 pounds; 40s 5.00, 4.95; 24.5 vertical; bench press 15 reps.

Ben Tate--219 pounds.

Chris Todd--6-1 1/2, 216 pounds; 40s 4.84, 4.95; vertical 27.5; standing broad jump 8-11 1/2, 9-1 1/2; bench press reps 13.

Gabe Barrett--5-8 1/2, 169 pounds; 40s 4.60, 4.66; vertical 32.5; standing broad jumps 9-5 1/2, 9-6; bench press reps 4.

Robert Dunn--5-10 1/4, 173 pounds; 40s 4.73, 4.70; vertical 27, 28; standing broad jump 9-6.

Robert Dunn tries to stay in bounds following a catch on Tuesday.

Robert Johnson--6-5 1/2, 278 pounds; 40s 5.01, 5.0; vertical 27, 28; bench press reps 12.

Brad Lester--5-9, 195 pounds; 40s 4.46, 4.47; vertical 38; standing broad jump 10-2 1/2; bench press 22 reps.

Maurice Smith--6-1, 200; 40s 4.53, 4.69; vertical 32.5, 33.5; standing broad jump 10-3; bench press 12 reps.

Montez Billings--6-1, 1/4, 181 pounds; 40s 4.42, 4.48; vertical 34; standing broad jump 10-5, 10-6 1/2.

Montez Billings, who did not play football during his senior, makes a catch at the pro day workout.

Clayton Jones--5-10 1/4, 183 pounds; 40 4.72; vertical 29, 30; standing broad jump 8-9 1/2, 9-4; bench press 13 reps.


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