The 'good/bad' news from USC's Pro Day

It hasn't been easy and Pro Day wasn't as big a deal as usual but these Trojans are giving it their best shot and say they're taking something from their tumultuous years here.

Not a big day for buzz. Nor that much of a turnout Wednesday from the NFL, or those connected and trying to get in to USC’s Pro Day.

Pretty much a statement about how the last four or five years have gone for this USC program, we’d have to say. Having it at the same time as the NFL meetings in Florida made it almost impossible for the head coaches and GM’s to be here although one GM may have made it. No official number here but USC is saying “most NFL teams were represented.”

And with probably not a single first-round draft pick here for a Trojan program that has the most in history, this was a different sort of a day. And yet, there was this.

As Washington Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry, former USC coach and player said of his spring break trip to West Coast this week, and with his family at Knott’s Berry Farm Wednesday, “It’s home . . . I had to come back to USC. The place looks great. I hadn’t even seen the renovated Heritage Hall. Wow.”

Keary Colbert echoed those sentiments. Back from Alabama as a quality control guy/analyst, Keary said he’s all moved home now and living “in Inglewood,” he said. It may not be Tuscaloosa, “but it’s home.”

Even for the players who had gone through so much at USC, this was a special day. Maybe their last time on Cromwell and Howard Jones/Brian Kennedy Fields. And their last time with their buddies.

On a day when accurate information about the players’ testing was about as easy to come up with as if it was buried in those NCAA emails, it came down to word of mouth until the official numbers were posted on the USCTrojans.com’s Rips It Blog attached below.

Su’a Cravens knew he’d run decently, he said, “but I was told everything from a hand-timed 4.5 by one of the scouts to an electronic 4.65.”

Not bad. Su’a had been shooting for a mid- to high 4.5 but he’ll take that official 4.65 although he’s trying to show them he can play safety, open his hips, cover deep middle, and even at 220 pounds, that time is down at the bottom of the pack for a DB. But in the top 10 for a linebacker. Of the USC guys, it was behind the 4.59 that 242-pound Soma Vainuku put up.

Su’a did manage to jump better – up from 27 inches at The Combine to 30.5 in the vertical here. But teammate Ryan Dillard jumped 37 today. And four other Trojans bettered Su’a’s 30.5 including two D-linemen. So Su’a is in search of a position still. And he knows that’s not up to him. And yes, he can get up “to 235 to play linebacker if that’s what they want.”

Cody Kessler gave them what they wanted. ”I always thought his arm was strong enough,” said USC alum and Pac-12 Network analyst Curtis Conway on his advice for Cody. “Trust yourself, trust what you see and let it rip.”

Which is what Cody did on a day that made you throw away all those images of him short-arming the ball to check-down receivers most of his senior season. In the nearly 55 scripted throws, he made them all with just two, as he noted, hitting the ground. Strong, sharp, powerful. On the move and from the pocket. Quick outlets to backs and finally, on the deep ball as well.

Last fall “was my fault,” Cody said. “I wasn’t stepping into my throws enough” and through the throws, he said. Yeah, he admitted, he may have been paying too much attention to pash-rushers coming at him from all sides. “I was worrying about the defense,” he said. Or more likel, although he never said it, about his hit-and-miss offensive line.

Well, no one was coming at him today. And Cody took full advantage of it. Took full advantage of his new lightweight mid-height Nikes. Although that’s ending here. “I just signed with Adidas,” Cody said.

But he’ll take his USC experience with him forever, he says. “It’s a good/bad thing.” The good is learning how to handle adversity and being ready for all the questions in the NFL interviews about just how he did that. “I respected every coach I’ve had – Kiff, Sark, Coach O,” he said of those who are gone. “But I learned to keep the focus off that and on the things you can control . . . that’s helped all of us.”

Five months after his ACL surgery and at a solid 296 pounds, Max Tuerk got 26 reps on the bench, not bad for a long-armed guy who’s 6-5 plus, and spent the rest of the day cheerleading for his guys on the field. He was feeling good about where he is now that he’s been cleared to start straight-line running. Teams are talking to him – he’s interviewed with “all of them,” he thinks, and they’re talking about all three O-line spots.

Kevon Seymour didn’t have to run the 40 after his 4.42 at The Combine so that made his day easier. Tre Madden did and at 217 pounds, the injury-jinxed running back from Mission Viejo, was finally back from foot surgery and running down "in the 4.5’s somewhere," he said. It was a USC best 4.56. but no one could tell him exactly what that time was until later. But he was feeling good about it – and about his foot.

”I’m faster – and stronger,” he says. The weight loss hasn’t cost him any strength.

Another Trojan who couldn’t have looked much better was a slimmed-down Vainuku in his slick Samoan warrior pony-tail-like “do.” He did running back, linebacker and receiver work and looked fast and flexible with his 4.59 forty and like a guy who could fill a lot of slots on a roster.

But it wasn’t all about the big-name guys. Ryan Dillard, after missing his senior year with a foot fracture, was back and healthy and tearing it up with a best effort of the day in the vertical, third-best in the broad jump and fourth-best in the 40 (4.70).

And you could hear his parents, out from Atlanta, cheering him on. But even more so, as his dad Oscar noted of Ryan, who was on scholarship two of his years here, the communications grad in just 3 ½ years, has six job offers if this football thing doesn’t work out.

On a day like this, it’s the best takeaway of all for a good group of guys who had the bad luck to be here at not the best of times.

"Everything works out for the best,” Madden said. “It was great seeing all of our class out here going for the same goal.” Although where that ends up for most of them, no one knows. Usually you have an idea where people are going to go.

"Not this year,” Tre said. “There’ll be Trojans all over the draft.” Or not.

But always Trojans.

Quick hits

*** Special teamers Kris Albarado (punter), Andre Heidari (placekicking alum), Chris Willson (long-snapper, tight end at 265 pounds) worked out with Conner Sullivan (holder/videographer) in the stands with his camera . . . Albarado, as he often did in practice, got the ball to turn over big-time and Heidari kicked off deep into the end zone even into the wind . . . Willson clearly has been working on his snapping – impressive . . . Scott Felix in the stands watching his former teammates . . . also there as he always seems to be, Leonard Williams . . . Greg Townsend Jr. worked with D-line guys and linebackers and looked pretty decent most of the day . . . Cody Temple has built himself up from 282 at the Holiday Bowl to 308 Wednesday and a USC best 33 bench reps (tied with Claude Pelon)is preparing to get certified as a strength coach . . . alum Kevin Graf,, after a couple of season with the Eagles, is a free agent and would have worked out but he said with no other O-linemen available, he chose not to . . . AD Pat Haden out here for a bit looking good. Haven’t seen him at a football function in a while . . . George Uko and Tony Burnett watching in the stands . . . alums D.J. Morgan and Demetrius Wright back for another shot. DJ transferred to Azusa Pacific where he played football last fall as a return guy and soon will be running track this spring. DJ ran well but said he had no idea how fast . . . Willie McGinest here with advice for Su’a.

Courtesy of USCTrojans.com’s Rips It Blog, here are the results:

Wednesday’s testing

Participants

Kris Albarado: 5-foot-9, 200 pounds

Su'a Cravens: 6-foot-1, 220

Lamar Dawson: 6-foot-1, 228

Ryan Dillard: 5-foot-8, 180

George Katrib: 5-foot-11, 184

Cody Kessler: 6-foot-1, 220

Tre Madden: 6-foot-0, 217

Claude Pelon: 6-foot-4, 310

Jahleel Pinner: 5-foot-10, 240

Anthony Sarao: 5-foot-11, 219

Kevon Seymour: 5-foot-11, 188

Delvon Simmons: 6-foot-5, 298

Cody Temple: 6-foot-2, 306

Greg Townsend Jr.: 6-foot-4, 258

Max Tuerk: 6-foot-5, 296

Soma Vainuku: 5-foot-11, 242

Antwaun Woods: 6-foot-0, 318

Vertical leap

Ryan Dillard - 37 inches

Anthony Sarao - 35.5 inches

Tre Madden - 33.5 inches

Claude Pelon - 32.5 inches

Greg Townsend Jr. - 31.5 inches

Su'a Cravens - 30.5 inches

Jahleel Pinner - 28 inches

George Katrib - 28 inches

Antwaun Woods - 27.5 inches

Lamar Dawson - 27.5 inches

Cody Temple - 25.5 inches

Delvon Simmons - 25 inches

Broad jump

Tre Madden: 10 feet

Ryan Dillard: 9 feet, 8 inches

Anthony Sarao: 9 feet, 6 inches

Claude Pelon: 9 feet, 2 inches

Greg Townsend Jr.: 9 feet, 1 inch

George Katrib: 8 feet, 11 inches

Lamar Dawson: 8 feet, 8 inches

Antwaun Woods: 8 feet, 8 inches

Jahleel Pinner: 8 feet, 4 inches

Delvon Simmons: 8 feet, 2 inches

Cody Temple:7 feet, 11 inches

Bench press

Claude Pelon - 33 reps

Cody Temple - 33 reps

Max Tuerk - 26 reps

Delvon Simmons - 23 reps

Anthony Sarao - 22 reps

Greg Townsend Jr. - 19 reps

Ryan Dillard - 17 reps

Jahleel Pinner - 17 reps

George Katrib - 6 reps

40-yard dash

Tre Madden - 4.56

Soma Vainuku - 4.59

Su'a Cravens - 4.65

Ryan Dillard - 4.70

Anthony Sarao - 4.80

George Katrib - 4.80

Jahleel Pinner - 4.88

Lamar Dawson - 4.91

Greg Townsend Jr. - 4.93

Antwaun Woods - 5.09

Claude Pelon - 5.11

Cody Temple - 5.20

Delvon Simmons - 5.41

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.


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