Rowan hoping opportunity knocks

After four seasons at Wisconsin, cornerback has posted impressive workout numbers for NFL scouts

Levonne Rowan's name has been anything but prominent among NFL Draft prognosticators this year. But in a draft purported to be light on corners, Rowan will likely receive an opportunity, either as a late-round pick on Sunday's second day of the draft, or as an undrafted free agent.

"I just want to get a chance," Rowan said in a telephone interview this week. "That's all it takes is a chance.

Rowan is an intriguing prospect because he has extraordinary speed and good size at 5-foot-11, 198 pounds. He was somewhat of an enigma in his four years with the University of Wisconsin football program, when he was often sidetracked by injuries. He struggled with inconsistency especially early in his career, but he played at a high level late in his senior season.

That may have been too little, too late for many NFL clubs. But several have taken notice. Rowan ran a blistering 4.28-second 40-yard dash at Wisconsin's pro day March 8 — and he did so with a bum hamstring that he had strained the week before, when the Badgers conducted a "mock pro day." Rowan actually slowed up at the end of his pro day 40, as he suffered a pull of the hamstring during the run.

The injury kept him from competing in the rest of the events that day and kept him from working out at all for the next two weeks.

Early this month he worked out for the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts in Madison, though he still was not full strength at the time. Before those teams' representatives, Rowan recorded a 36-inch vertical jump, a 10-1 broad jump, a 6.83-second 3-cone drill and a rather impressive 3.96-second pro agility run.

"I told them I wasn't 100 percent," Rowan said. "I guess they were really happy with the time still though. I only did everything one time too."

The Badgers' strength and conditioning staff videotaped the UW prospects' "mock pro day", so NFL scouts could see the 39-inch vertical jump and 10-6 broad jump Rowan had recorded that day.

"With a hamstring you can't do any conditioning," Rowan said. "I couldn't run. All I could do was lift. I barely even was working my legs. My jumps went down a little bit. I had like a 39-inch vertical, but it went down to a 36, 35, after the injury because I couldn't work. You have to keep working at that.

In addition to working out, Rowan is finishing up his degree in human ecology (with a focus in consumer finance) this semester, with a 14-credit course load.

"I've just been working hard rehabbing and just getting ready man," Rowan said of his draft preparation. "I'll be proud when they call my name and it's over (and) I know where I'm going."

Rowan said that, in addition to the Packers and Colts, several teams have contacted him directly or his agent, including the Carolina Panthers. Still, Rowan is expected to be an undrafted free agent, with an opportunity to prove himself in a camp. Some prospects prefer that option to being a late-round pick, but Rowan said he certainly hopes to be drafted.

"I'd rather (be a free agent) after my first contract," he said. "I don't really want to do that with the first one if I don't have to."

In whatever form it comes, though, Rowan would be thrilled to have a chance to make an NFL team.

"I'll be proud with an opportunity," he said. "Whatever happens, happens. I'll be happy to get my chance. And when I get there I ain't leaving."

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