Craphonso Thorpe was without a doubt the main attraction Tuesday at Mike Long track. When he set himself in the blocks to run his first 40-yard dash, players and bystanders alike put all distractions behind. A chorus of yells and compliments broke loose after Thorpe crossed the finish line with a handheld time around 4.25.
"That's a pretty good marking point considering I'm not 100 percent yet," said Thorpe, who was clocked at 4.3 by the official electronic timekeeper. "Just to come back and be out here doing what I'm doing…it's a blessing. To come back even stronger than I was a year ago … I've been blessed that I'm not only this fast, but even stronger."
"Cro" turned in an impressive day all around, improving his numbers across the board. His 38.5" mark in the vertical jump was up from 36" a year ago. His 4.2' shuttle was down from 4.6' and Thorpe's 9-8 broad jump shattered the 9-2 he turned in at testing last summer.
"I improved everything," he said with a smile. "My biggest improvement was in my leg strength. That's the biggest reason I tested so much better in these areas."
That leg strength was more than evident when he ran the 40. The former ACC 100-meter and 200-meter champion used a natural sprinter's from, seemingly gliding to the finish in both runs. Thorpe also ran a 4.33 (electronic) later in the day."
"Real nice," said Lorenzo Booker, who was standing near the finish as Thorpe coasted by.
Thorpe, with his mother in attendance, was understandably pleased with the effort.
"To go from running a 4.4 handheld when I was 170 pounds (two years ago) to running a 4.3 electronically at 200 pounds after all that has happened – it's amazing."
Amazing especially given that Thorpe hasn't sprinted full tilt on a track since before his November injury setting a block for Leon Washington in the Seminoles' overtime win against N.C. State. "Cro" has been working with his teammates the entire summer at conditioning drills but has looked tentative and gimpy to the casual onlooker at times.
"That's the way I run," he said, setting the record straight. "Even when I'm healthy, people think I look like I'm limping, but that's the way I run. It's not pain. It's just natural."
Thorpe, who finished six yards shy of a one thousand yard season in 2003, is cleared to practice but hasn't been ok'd for contact. But that hasn't stopped him from working hard.
"I work out twice every day," he said. "Adrian (McPherson) and I work out at Gold's Gym every night around 9:30. I also work out with the team during the day."
"I'll do what the doctors tell me I can do. If wants me to sit back and wait, I'll do that. If they tell me I can do something, I'll do it."