Harris, Wilson show out at KU Pro Day

Kansas football brought the NFL to Mount Oread on Wednesday morning, as 10 departing seniors ran through the combine paces for a handful of professional scouts – each hoping to open some eyes in the process.

When the Missouri Tigers hoisted the war drum at Arrowhead Stadium on Nov. 27, the career of Chris Harris as a Kansas Jayhawk came to a close.

Stepping off the bus at the Anderson Family Football Complex into the cool fall air that afternoon, the senior cornerback returned home, tossed down his things proceeded to do absolutely nothing, athletically speaking, for exactly one week.

After that, he thought, it was time to get back to work.

"It was kind of like 'Man, you might want to start working out,'" Harris said.

It was a sentiment shared by many of his fellow seniors, all of whom had played their final game as a collegiate athlete but still harbored hopes of continuing their football careers – preferably as a part of the NFL.

Though the annual NFL Scouting Combine is the largest and most prestigious forum for athletes to run through the paces under the watchful eyes of professional scouts, any program worth its salt hosts a Pro Day of its own. They give every prospect making the jump to the NFL – whether they were invited to the combine or not – to work out for NFL personnel in a more private and familiar setting.

Kansas football held its own Pro Day on Wednesday morning, and 10 departing seniors – including Harris, Drew Dudley, Jake Laptad, Angus Quigley, Alonso Rojas, Calvin Rubles, Justin Springer, Brad Thorson, Johnathan Wilson and Quintin Woods – chose to participate, as scouts from several NFL teams looked on.

Though many of the former Jayhawks tested out well in specific drills, Harris turned in perhaps the most impressive all-around performance. Noticeably bigger, having added seven pounds of pure muscle since the season finale and now weighing in at 195 pounds, he put up 14 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press.

Even more surprising, however, was his speed. Poll 100 fans of Kansas football and they'll likely fail to name Harris as one of the fastest Jayhawks on the field last season, but the Bixby, Okla. native turned in back-to-back 40-yard dash times in the mid 4.4-second range.

"I actually ran slower than I usually do," he said. "Usually I run a low 4.4, which is really low. One scout told me I ran a 4.47. I wanted to run a 4.3 today, that was my goal, but I'll take a 4.4 any day."

Harris also recorded a vertical leap of well over 30 inches, rounding out a strong day.

He wasn't the only one to post some eye-popping numbers, however. Wilson was equally impressive, running a 40-yard dash in the high 4.5-second range, vertical leaping almost 36 inches and performing well in position drills.

The wide receiver credited his off-season training regimen, for which he traveled to Long Beach, Calif., for the improvements.

"During the season I had a slight injury, so I couldn't do as much," Wilson said. "I'm definitely faster and stronger than I was during the season."

Now, all that's left to do is wait for April's NFL Draft, while keeping a watchful eye on the league's current labor dispute.

That and continue to train, of course.

"I'm hopeful that on draft day my name will be called, but I do expect to be in a camp this summer," said Thorson, who expected to be looked at as an interior lineman. "I'm hoping that there is an NFL next year."

Other Pro Day notables:

* Thorson's 40-yard dash time raised eyebrows. Despite weighing 300 pounds on the dot, he ran back-to-back times in the 5.0-5.1-second range.

* Woods, a defensive end, turned in impressive times as well despite his rangy, 6-foot-5, 240-pound frame. He ran sub-4.7 seconds.

* Dudley, another long-time starter most Kansas fans probably wouldn't describe as a speedster, ran the 40 in sub-4.6 seconds.


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