Pro Day Notebook

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Nineteen former Tar Heels auditioned for roughly 100 NFL personnel on Thursday as North Carolina held its annual pro timing day at Navy Fields.

** If you needed evidence that North Carolina's football program is loaded with talent, look no further than the packed house at Navy Fields on Thursday. Nearly 100 NFL personnel were on hand to scout the 19 Tar Heel participants, including head coaches Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh), Lovie Smith (Chicago), Ron Rivera (Carolina), Ken Whisenhunt (Arizona) and Jim Schwartz (Detroit).

A large number of current players were on hand to watch the event, while former players included E.J. Wilson, Cam Thomas, Bobby Rome, Michael McAdoo and Bobby Rome.

** After the weight room measurements and workouts concluded just before 11am, the schedule turned to speed and agility drills. Fourteen Tar Heels rotated in running the 40-yard dash twice, while Deunta Williams (fractured fibula), Bruce Carter (ACL), Greg Elleby (ACL), Marvin Austin and T.J. Yates did not participate.

Greg Little (4.5), Johnny White (4.53), Da'Norris Searcy (4.57) and Robert Quinn (4.59) posted the best 40-times. Ironically, those numbers could have been even better. Scouts debated switching the field for the 40-yard dash due to the first 10 yards being on a slight incline.

** The players then split into groups to work through the "L" cone and pro agility drills at different stations. Once those standard drills were completed, individual testing soaked up the remaining allotted hour. With offensive coordinator John Shoop directing the QB/WR/TE/RB passing drill, Yates connected on all but two of his 112 passes, which included a difficult catch by Johnny White on a pass thrown behind him and a Ed Barham drop.

"I thought he had an excellent day," Davis said of Yates. "I thought he threw the ball well. Somebody said he was like 110 out of 112 throws – that's a pretty good day's work. He was pretty efficient. He's gotten bigger and stronger every single year."

Davis added that he believes Yates will become the first Tar Heel quarterback to throw a pass in a NFL game.

** As expected, Marvin Austin and Robert Quinn drew the largest crowd when they went through DL bag drills on the baseball stadium side of Navy Fields. Pro scouts are known to be brutally tough in running drills, but their primary goal is to make sure the players do exactly what is asked of them. After delivering a powerful swim move off the line of scrimmage to get into the backfield, a Cincinnati Bengals scout told Austin, "Good, Marvin, that's the way to see it."

** Searcy and Kendric Burney worked through defensive back drills as Williams chatted with the pro scout running the station. The true value of UNC coaching staff's ties to the NFL were evident as the defensive backs were doing drills that the Tar Heels do every day in practice. Searcy would tell reporters later that he interrupted the scout during instructions to let him know that he already knew what to do.

** Speaking of Williams, the college free safety told reporters that he's been told this draft class contains a lot of safeties of similar size, so specific positions are further down the list of determining factors.

Doctors put a screw in his foot during surgery, but the screw recently broke and he will have a procedure to have it removed soon. Williams expects to be back to 100 percent sometime between mid-May and the beginning of June.

The Jacksonville, N.C., native is not overly concerned about his injury affecting his draft status and indicated that he will rely on his charm in forthcoming interviews.

"Really all I can do is let them hear my personality and feel me out a little bit," Williams said. "I'm going back to the medical recheck, so their team doctors will actually have access to that information. So the only thing I can do is not say anything dumb during my interviews."

The NFL medical recheck is scheduled for Apr. 9th.

"He's made really good progress," Davis said. "I think Scott Trulock, our trainer, feels like he's ahead of schedule."

Davis indicated that while the injuries will have some impact, the fact that Williams and Carter should be back to full health and be able to return to most activities by July should limit their draft hit.

** Davis made sure to include a hard-to-miss recruiting pitch during his press conference following Thursday's proceedings.

"One of the things that you keep hearing from the NFL scouts is that they love coming and watching our video and tape of our kids because what we do schematically – offensively, defensively and on special teams – is almost a carbon copy of what all 32 teams do in the National Football League," Davis said. "You don't have to guess if a guy is a wishbone quarterback or a spread-option quarterback.

"You can see T.J. Yates doing two-minute drills, you can see personnel groupings and all of those things… I think it helped Hakeem Nicks and all of those guys in previous drafts for having played in these schemes."

** Austin told reporters that he wasn't aware that he had done anything wrong until the NCAA investigators interviewed him back in July. He said that his three trips to Miami to visit longtime friend Vontae Davis were not paid for by an agent, but rather an undisclosed third party that he had known since ninth grade. Austin believed that individual fell under the "previous relationship" clause in the NCAA by-laws.

Austin joined Greg Little and Robert Quinn in asking UNC for the opportunity to return to campus for Thursday's pro timing day, and due to the trio accepting responsibility for their mistakes, the school granted their request.

The fact that Austin was the lone member of the group that North Carolina did not send in reinstatement papers for to the NCAA has no lingering effects on the affable defensive tackle.

"The university had to do what's best for the university," Austin said. "I think they made the best decision that they could given the circumstances that they were under. I'm glad that they invited me back. I appreciate all of the people in the administration for giving me a second chance."

** Due to limited roster size, often the best way for lower-round draft picks and college free agents to earn a spot on a NFL team is through special teams work. So there was no surprise in seeing tight ends Zack Pianalto and Ryan Taylor displaying their long snap skills to a New York Giants scout on the sidelines.

Inside Carolina Top Stories