Cougs shine as NFL scouts look on

PULLMAN -- Scouts from about a dozen NFL teams, plus the CFL's B.C. Lions, kept their stopwatches close to the vest Wednesday as they put 10 WSU seniors through workouts. But the buzz coming out of The Bubble was that two Cougs wanting badly to improve on their showings from last week's NFL Combine did just that. And one of their 323-pound teammates looked downright swift motoring down the line.

It was Pro Day on the Palouse -- an annual rite of spring in which talent evaluators from around the NFL check out the latest offerings from Pullman.

Ten Cougars were on hand: tight end Cody Boyd, cornerbacks Tyron Brackenridge and Don Turner, defensive end Mkristo Bruce, linebackers Scott Davis, and Steve Dildine, safety Eric Frampton, offensive linemen Charles Harris, and Sean O'Connor, and wide receiver Jason Hill. They took part in myriad assessements, ranging from standard body measurements and weight lifting to agility drills and the 40-yard dash.

Brackenridge said he overheard a scout say he clocked a 4.5 in the 40 — a time Brackenridge had been running consistently all winter but one he failed to match -- by a lot, at 4.68 -- during the Combine in Indianapolis a week ago. He's been projected to go in April's NFL draft anywhere between the third- and seventh rounds. A 4.5 in the 40 will help his stock considerably.

"Being here, in your home domain, you feel more comfortable versus being out in Indianapolis," Brackenridge said. "You know, climate change, my body has a little more rest, and I feel more prepared. My body is used to this atmosphere."

A crowd of Cougar underclassmen were on hand to support their older teammates and made no secret of the fact they thought Brackenridge also smoked the 3-cone agility test -- a drill in which players navigate three cones placed in a triangular formation 10-yards apart.

Brackenridge's short shuttle performance also was oustanding at 3.99-seconds.

Another Cougar who was looking to improve upon a so-so performance at the NFL Combine was Bruce. Though no 40 times where shared, the grapevine report was that he improved notably from a week ago and that the Chicago Bears are quite interested in him. sources said Bruce turned in an 8-foot-11-inch broad jump, well ahead of his 8-foot-6-inch mark from Indy. And his vertical jump was four inches better, at 33-inches.

Perhaps the most surprising effort in the 40 was by Harris, who checks in at 323 pounds and looked all of it, but managed, from a sideline view at least, to make it down the line in extremely swift fashion.

One guy who justifiably didn't take part in the speed or agility portions of the day was Hill. At the Combine last week he turned in a sizzling 4.32 in the 40 -- a head-turning time that may have elevated him into the first round of the draft. reported that the St. Louis Rams sent offensive coordinator Greg Olson to Pullman solely to talk with Hill and watch him run routes.

Dildine, believed to be suffering from a calf strain, also sat out the agility drills.

The players were under close watch from scouts from a number of NFL teams, including the Colts, Bears, Jets, Seahawks, Saints and others.

In the weight room, players were tested for strength and flexibility. The biggest test in this stage is the bench press, where they're required to put up 225 pounds as many times as possible. That's no easy feat even for athletes as well conditioned as these.

Although no numbers were released due to scouts' well known penchant for secrecy, each of the Cougs completed between 10 and 25 reps, with the linemen and linebackers setting the pace.

Among current Cougar players who watched the proceedings at the indoor practice bubble were Alex Brink, Cole Morgan, Mike Graise, Bryan Tarkington, Tony Thompson, Ryan Kensok, Bobby Byrd, Finas Rabb and Romeen Abdollmohammadi

"We're here to support our teammates," said Morgan. "(Plus) it's all something that we want to do to."

"I was talking to Cody (Boyd)," Morgan added, "When you're little, all you want to do is play for an NFL team, and now he's going through that. It's awesome."

Although one day my seem like a small window for players to prove themselves, Davis said the next step is already in motion, as players who feel they have a legitimate shot at Sundays -- either in the draft or via free agency -- must secure an agent if they haven't already done so. Davis' performance Wednesday must have been solid, because he and Frampton's agent were talking it up before the sweat had left.


* Eric Frampton reportedly had a 10-foot-2-inch broad jump and a 36.5-inch vertical leap. He improved his slow 40 times from Indy down between 4.65-and-4.61 seconds.

* Cody Boyd reportedly posted 40 times between 4.87-to-4.94 seconds.

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