Pitt held its Pro Day at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex on the South Side, Wednesday afternoon.
Twelve Pitt players worked out. Among them were quarterback Tino Sunseri, running back Ray Graham, receivers Mike Shanahan and Cameron Saddler, tight end Hubie Graham, offensive linemen Chris Jacobson and Ryan Turnley, defensive linemen Shayne Hale and Kris Wildman, defensive backs Jarred Holley and Andrew Taglianetti, and kicker Kevin Harper.
The most notable was Graham, the lone Pitt player invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last month. Graham ran a 4.72 in his 40. He said he didn't receive his 40 time on Wednesday, but did know that he improved his vertical jump from 31 inches to 32.
"Mainly, I just wanted to improve on everyone from the combine," Graham said. "I just wanted to show them I could move, that I can run through holes. I thought I did pretty good. I felt like I did better.
Graham said that in his training for Indianapolis, and for today's Pro Day, he was running around a 4.5.
"People play football, that's what I do," Graham said. "I'm not trying to disrespect the forty. I'll just keep moving forward, and that's what I did."
Graham was held out of the BBVA Compass Bowl due to a pulled hamstring, something he says is still not 100 percent. He says he tweaked the hamstring the week before bowl game preparations, around December 28.
"The week after the (Senior Bowl), it started feeling better," Graham said. "I'm just getting ready, just trying to stay healthy. Come camp, I'll have no worries about it."
Graham measured in today at 5-9, 197--down a few pounds from where he played at this season.
"I just want to play at a weight where I'm comfortable at, 195 to 200," Graham added.
Jacobson was one of several players who went up to Buffalo to train with former strength coach Buddy Morris, who has since gone back to open his own gym. Jacobson ended the season around 6-1, 311, he says. Today, he checked in at 6-1, 301.
"When I went up there, Buddy said, '300,'" Jacobson said. "What he does in the weight room, transfers over to the field."
Jacobson had to deal with a knee injury that ended his 2011 season. With a full season under his belt, and the extra time to heal the injury after 13 games of contact ts season, he admits feeling more confident in getting ready for today's Pro Day.
Jacobson also played in the Casino del Sol all-star game in Tucson. He was given the opportunity to try center while he was there, something that gave him some more marketability.
"There was probably 80 scouts there, every day, which was good," Jacobson said. "They didn't have a center down there, so I played center. That helped a lot. I have guard film, and then I played and practiced at center. I think doing that, them seeing that, they were happy about that."
Taglianetti stayed locally to train in Bridgeville. He checked in at 5-9, 186. Unofficially, he ran a 40 time in the low 4.5s. The overall impassioned he got, is that everyone did well.
"I was impressed with how everyone did," Taglianetti said. "I think I did a good job, but at the same time, I thought I could have done better."
Taglianetti played in 52 career games with 10 starts. He finished his career as Pitt's all-time leader with six blocked punts. There is a very good possibility he could latch on to a team, as a special teams player.
"I just want a shot," Taglianetti said. "I've kind of flown under he radar my whole career. I think if I can just get to a camp, I can get a chance. If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. I'll move on."
Holley, another safety, didn't get any times. He checked in at 5-9, 194.
"It's like a game, or anything else, Holley said. "You're nervous, but one you get things going, your nerves settle down.
Harper took a bit of a different route to get to Pro Day. He attended an NFL Regional Combine. That was held at the New York Jets training facility. Harper did well enough to advance to the National Combine, which will be held in Dallas on April 6. It will be televised on the NFL Network. He was one of six kickers selected.
"Anyone out of college can come, I got the call yesterday and made it," Harper said. "The St. Louis Rams kicker got drafted from there last year.
Aside from the kicking, Harper benched 225, 12 times, and ran the 40 in 4.67. He checked in at 5-9, 179.
"They didn't quite want me doing field goals, since we didn't have a snapper," Harper said.
Harper worked on kickoffs today. At the NFL Regional Combine, he kicked field goals of 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55 on consecutive attempts.
Also from the offensive line was Turnley, who like Jacobson, played center and guard in his career. It's a little tougher for the linemen, who don't get a chance to display their physical talents.
"I just wanted to show my athletic ability," Turnley said. "They know what I do (on the field). They'll turn on the film."
Turnley ran anywhere from the 5.2 to 5.4 range, and had 16 bench press reps. He measured in at 6-5, 304, down 10 pounds from where he was at the end of the season. Like Jacobson, Turnley was also one of the players to work out with Morris in Buffalo.
"We think he's the best in the world at what he does," Turnley said. "In our opinion, there was really nowhere else to go."
Saddler reported a 4.52 40 time, checking in at 5-6, 167.
"I feel like I did everything I was supposed to do," Saddler said. "It was a good day. This whole process has been fun.
"I wanted to surprise everyone with my shuttle runs. I knew I was going to be in the 4.5s for a forty. I just wanted to blow everyone away with my shuttle runs, and I felt I did that."
If the NFL doesn't pan out, Saddler is going to pursue a career with CBS Sports Radio, starting off as an intern.
Saddler's high school teammate Hale boosted his stock when he entered the starting lineup for the first time in his career. Starting the final six games of the season, finishing with 32 of his 39 tackles in those six starts. He finished his Pitt career with 13 stops in the loss to Ole Miss.
Hale also went down to 261 pounds, from 270 after the last game. He trained with local trainer DeWayne Brown, who works with a number of local high school and college athletes.
"It felt good to compete in team mode, one more time," Hale said. "The senior year, it helped. It gave (the scouts) tape, especially on certain downs. It gave me actual tape to be there for a season, to show what I could do. I enjoyed every bit of it."
While nearly all of the Pitt prospects had a goal of dropping some weight, Shanahan had an aim to gain weight for Pro Day. He bulked up to 6-5, 241 with the idea of giving tight end a shot at the next level.
Working with Morris, but unlike Jacobson and Turnley, Shanahan put weight on for the Pro Day.
"It's kind of tough," Shanahan said. "I think (tight end) gives me my best shot. I kind of knew it was going to happen. I think I can be effective. A couple of the drills, I was nervous for, but after awhile I caught on."
Shanahan said his best 40 time was a 4.69, and he did 18 bench press reps of 225.
"A lot of the stuff, like blocking, was different," Shanahan said. "The routes are kind of the same."