Audio recap of Pro Day from WeAreSC staff
Photo gallery from Joe Andras
USC Pro Day thoughts - from Garry Paskwietz
It was termed a "circus", a "zoo" and a "spectacle" but, honestly, it could have been worse. The writers who used those terms to describe the scene at the Trojan Pro Day on Sunday haven't been around this team much in recent years because today was nothing out of the ordinary for the USC players.
These are guys are who used to the hype, they are used to people milling around practices on the sidelines, they are used to famous faces in the crowd. In short, the Trojan players are not the kind of guys who are going to be intimidated by the atmosphere they found on Pro Day with a nearly full track stadium watching the 40 yard dash, bench press and vertical leap testing as well as a sideline packed with NFL coaches, personnel men and agents tracking their every move.
The Trojan Pro Day under Pete Carroll has grown each year into the day we saw today, a blending of old and new with over 200 junior recruits on campus to watch the action before taking part in the academic Junior Day and a support crew of former Trojan players that included Shaun Cody, Keary Colbert, Darrell Rideaux, Petros Papadakis, Paul McDonald, Chris Claiborne, Sean Salisbury (in his role with ESPN), Jason Leach, Sultan McCullough and others. There was even a good Trojan representation among the assembled NFL types including Jeff Fisher, Kennedy Pola, Mark Carrier, Carl Smith, Greg Burns, Jethro Franklin and the ever popular Norm Chow.
The day has become so big that a separate media area was created on the in-field of Cromwell Field to accommodate the large numbers of reporters and cameramen who were there to document the activities. What they saw were performances that dazzled (Reggie Bush and Winston Justice), some that opened a few eyes (Fred Matua and Deuce Lutui) and one that left a little to be desired (LenDale White).
Bush (5-11, 202) is the one that everyone will talk about today and it's for a good reason with the numbers he put up across the board. We knew he was fast and he came out and proved that with a smoking 4.33 on his first 40 attempt and then he came right back with a 4.37 on his second run. The 40's were run on a electronic timing system that is part of the Nike SPARQ training program and it is known for being just slightly slow in terms of time and most NFL guys said they though Bush was faster than his times indicated. Reggie had started his day by leaping 40.5 inches in the vertical jump. He then came over and knocked out 24 reps of 225 pounds on the bench, an impressive number that was only two less than Lutui and one less than Matua. He also had a standing broad jump of 10'8.5 inches. His 40 time, the vert and the broad jump were all top marks on the day among the Trojans. Reggie told EPSN.com, "I feel like I came in here today as the No. 1 guy, and I think I'm leaving the same way." He worked out on the field primarily as a wide receiver and caught the vast majority of balls thrown his way by Leinart.
The status for Justice was a little less certain heading into the day but he was looking to further capitalize on a good combine performance by following that up with a solid Pro Day and that's exactly what he did. Winston showed up looking huge in the upper body and he looked every bit the part of a top NFL draft pick. After measuring in at 6-6.25 and 320 pounds, he proceed to waste no time in showing his athleticism by leaping 39 inches in the vert, an amazing number for a man his size. He then pumped out 38 reps on the bench as he was throwing the bar up with ease. There was a brief moment of concern during his first 40 attempt when he pulled up holding his calf but he later performed extremely well in the lineman field drills while going up against Lutui, Matua and former Trojan and NFL star Derrick Deese. Look for Winston be a solid mid-first round pick, if not higher based on what the scouts saw here today.
Matt Leinart (6-4.75, 224) came in knowing it is probably a two team race for his services; either he will go to the Tennessee Titans with the #3 pick or the New York Jets will trade for a higher pick so that they can take him. With that knowledge secure, Leinart came out and did what he needed to do. He threw deep comeback passes, he threw on the run and he showed good footwork doing it. About the only complaint that you heard from scouts was that he didn't display the strongest arm or didn't have the best zip on the deep passes. If you want to nitpick Matt's game, those are probably the areas you would look at. The Titans don't seem too worried about it though, they will stay over until tomorrow to conduct a private workout with Matt featuring several of the current Tennessee receivers. Matt may have disappointed some in the crowd by not running the 40 and he only gave a wry smile as he declined to take his turn when the attendant at the bench press called out his name but one testing drill he did do was the vertical leap and he had a 37 inch jump, a very good mark for a quarterback.
LenDale White (6-0.75, 244) did not go through any of the testing at the combine because he said he was going to work out today at the Pro Day. Well, it was a short lived day as LenDale said he had a sore hamstring which prevented him from doing anything except the bench press and several of the NFL executives were not too thrilled. LenDale did 15 reps on the bench, a mark that was surpassed by cornerback Justin Wyatt and was far lower than expected for a "power back". He is expected to re-schedule a workout in two weeks and things will need to go well on that day to prevent him from possibly sliding out of the first round.
Deuce Lutui received a lot of praise for having his weight down to 330 pounds and scouts said the weight loss showed in his improved footwork during field drills. Deuce also looked powerful in those drills as he simply could not be moved by the other players. He threw up 26 reps on the bench and had an impressive 32 inch vertical leap. His 5.33 40 time was met with loud cheers from the player's families rooting section and the exuberant Deuce responded with a fist pump and salute.
When Fred Matua declared for the NFL draft there were a lot of people who raised their eyebrows at the decision but after solid workouts at the combine and today at Pro Day it looks like Fred has positioned himself to be drafted somewhere in the middle rounds. Fred put up decent numbers with 25 reps on the bench and a vert of 30 inches but it was his 5.06 40 time which had scouts talking. He also did well in the field workout including some work at long snapper.
Darnell Bing measured in at 225 pounds and had the kind of day that will probably keep him in the low first round, high second round range. His best 40 time of 4.53 was good but he was hoping for a little better, he put up 21 reps on the bench and had a 38" vert. Where he looked smooth was on the field during defensive back workouts as he just seemed to glide across the field and change directions with ease.
We've always known that John Walker was a good athlete and today he combined the good workout numbers with an on-field performance that could see him get picked up by an NFL team. John measured in at 6-0.3, 199 and he cranked out a 39.5 inch vert, a 4.61 40 and a 10'6" broad jump. John also looked smooth in the coverage drills.
Other notes from Pro Day:
* William Buchanon (6-3, 191) caught passes from Leinart and did well, his 40" vert and 4.38 40 should also be enough to guarantee that he will get a free agent look.
* Collin Ashton put up a solid 25 reps on the bench and he also ran a respectable 4.67 40.
* Dominique Byrd weighed in at 258 pounds. He looked real good in the field workouts and showed good hands but his numbers in the bench (16) and 40 (4.81) were not what he was looking for to solidify a possible first round selection.
* David Kirtman pulled up with a hamstring early in the field workouts but he showed enough with 26 reps on the bench and a 4.74 40 to get some real interest.
* LaJuan Ramsey is another player who may have helped himself gain at least a free agent look. He ran a 4.91 40 (at 291 pounds) and also had a 32" vert.
* Mike Ross went through the day hoping to continue his football career but it's doubtful that his 4.72 40 time will attract any attention for a 189 pound safety. It was good to see him out there though.
* Frostee Rucker didn't seem to help himself much, according to several scouts. He ran a 4.80 40 and had a 35" vert.
* Scott Ware did not go through any testing drills.
* Andre Woodert had a 40" vertical leap.
* Justin Wyatt did not help himself either after pulling a hamstring during his 40. At 189 pounds, he ran a 4.74 40, not the speed NFL scouts are looking for at corner but he will likely get another chance to run if healthy.
Thoughts from Jeff Fisher – Tennessee Titans head coach and former Trojan defensive back
"I like how character is a big thing here now. Pete has that team thing going where there is no place for selfishness. You can see it during these workouts, the players are excited for each other. They support each other. The guys compete too. If a guy runs a 4.6 he is bummed because he wants to run a 4.5, if he puts up 25 reps on the bench he wants to do 30. That's a good thing. The attitude is the same as when I was here. It's a sense of pride, of carrying on a tradition. You want to do your part to leave a legacy at a place like USC."