Many Buckeyes Smiling After Pro Day

The majority of the former Ohio State football players who worked out Friday for the school's annual Pro Day at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus came away feeling good about what they were able to accomplish.

Like seemingly everything that has to do with football these days, the focus of this Ohio State Pro Day was speed, especially for the two former Buckeyes who figure to go earliest in the NFL draft on April 22-24.

Both Thaddeus Gibson and Kurt Coleman went to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month hoping to run fast enough to prove their versatility to pro scouts, but neither quite got the job done to his liking.

Gibson ran a reported 4.71-second 40-yard dash at Lucas Oil Stadium, while Coleman did not run at all because of a lingering injury.

That brought both back to Columbus working to build upon strong performances in agility and football drills, and both sounded satisfied with what he was able to do this time around as Ohio State director of football performance Eric Lichter and any number of the representatives of 29 NFL teams timed them by hand.

For Coleman, an All-Big Ten safety, a best 40 time of 4.48 on Friday left him believing NFL teams will view him as a candidate to play safety or cornerback in the pros.

"It was definitely a day for me to show the NFL that I'm fast enough to play corner and safety and that I'm fluid enough to play both positions," he said. "I think I really helped myself for the draft.

"Today God came down and said, ‘You're going to be healed today,‘ so I'm feeling good. This is probably the best I've felt in three or four months. I'm glad I waited a couple of weeks to let it heal up a little more."

For Gibson, a 4.51 figures to sell personnel people on his fitness to rush the passer as a 3-4 outside linebacker or 4-3 defensive end.

"I feel good," Gibson said. "I'm very happy that it's all behind me now. I'm just waiting to see what's next. Some said 4.51, some said 4.56, 4.57. Whatever it is, it's in the 4.5s and I'm happy with that."

While players like Coleman and Gibson were trying to solidify draft status, most other players had more at stake.

Defensive lineman Doug Worthington joined that duo in Indianapolis, but a peck injury suffered in the midst of bench pressing there robbed him of a chance to do other workouts or drills.

He said at the time he had considered working out anyway, but scouts told him to worry more about getting healthy because they would see him at OSU Pro Day. He stuck around Indianapolis and took part in a multitude of interviews with player personnel people and came away feeling as if he had made positive impressions with his confident, polite, straight-forward manner of dealing with people.

The 290-pounder then added what he hopes are satisfactory physical performances to his dossier on Friday.

"The combine was there for the interviews and the physicals," he said. "It would have been great to perform at the combine, but I know I wasn't 100 percent, and I didn't want to go out there and show half of myself, so Pro Day was here and it happened. It went pretty well. Everybody wants to do better."

While those three attempted to fill in holes in their resumes, a whole host of other Buckeyes who did not go to the combine worked to bring teams up to speed on their abilities.

Linebacker Austin Spitler and Jim Cordle were among that group, and both were happy with their results.

Spitler, a likely middle linebacker in the pros, ran anywhere from a 4.65 to 4.75 in the 40 and posted 32 reps in the bench press.

"I just wanted to really show them my overall skills, that I'm a fluid linebacker, a guy who's not struggling out there," Spitler said. "Just to be explosive. Today is an explosive day, and I think I improved my stock."

Unlike the rest of the rest of the Buckeyes who did not go to the combine, Cordle had been afforded the chance for first-hand evaluation from NFL scouts and coaches. He did that at the East-West Shrine Game in January, but he left there with some unfinished business because of an ankle injury.

"I'm happy with my day. I didn't do bad in anything," he said, nothing 23 reps in the bench press. "The last coupe of weeks I had been up to 25, so I was disappointed with that, but I went on and had a good vertical at 28 (inches), so I was happy with that. I think that shows I was healthy because I've had bad ankles recently. I think a 28 vertical can show I am healthy, which I felt really good today."

He ran a 5.36 in the 40 and joked that was good for him, but not every former Buckeye came away smiling.

Hamstring problems prevented tight end Jake Ballard and defensive lineman Todd Denlinger from running for scouts, leaving both to hope other drills they were able to perform as well as game film would impress the right people.

In all 17 former Buckeyes (from this draft class and previous ones) were scheduled to take part in activities, including cornerback Andre Amos, safety Jamario O'Neal, kickers Ryan Pretorius and Aaron Pettrey, defensive lineman Rob Rose, safety Anderson Russell, receiver Ryan Schuck, receiver Ray Small, punter Jon Thoma and defensive lineman Lawrence Wilson along with those already mentioned.

Eight others from local high schools or colleges worked out as well, including Michigan State defensive lineman Justin Kershaw, a native of Reynoldsburg, Ohio.

For even more on Ohio State's 2010 Pro Day, check out the Ask the Insiders message board, and keep an eye on BuckeyeSports.com in the coming days for closer looks at some of the former Buckeyes working to earn shots with NFL squads this year.


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