Pro Day Notebook

John Brantley knew that Tuesday was important. After he went 1-6 for 21 yards in the East-West Shrine game in late January, there were plenty of questions for him to answer. His workout in The Swamp at Tuesday's Pro Day won't make up for his struggles during his senior season, but Brantley hopes it was a step in the right direction for his future.

"It was huge," John Brantley said after his workout on Tuesday. "I had to come out here one last time and show what I could do."

He estimated throwing around 50 times to receivers he threw to in college like Deonte Thompson and even some older Florida players like Justin Williams. Brantley and Thompson worked out for the last two weeks to regain their on-field chemistry.

Those workouts happened in Orlando, where Brantley has spent a lot of his time since Florida's season ended with a win over Ohio State in the Gator Bowl. He spent time at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Disney. Brantley spent six weeks there working out with quarterback coach Tom Shaw.

"We worked a lot on my footwork," Brantley said. "We did a lot of throwing, but it was mostly getting my feet quicker and being faster."

Brantley, who kept his 4.8 40-yard dash time from the NFL Combine and didn't run Tuesday, has also been connected with former NFL quarterback Charlie Frye. Brantley signed with Frye's agent, and the former quarterback immediately reached out and wanted to spend time with Brantley.

They've spent four days a week working out since after the Gator Bowl in early January.

"It has been great," Brantley said. "He has been a great mentor for me. We're with each other every day working hard. I needed him, and he has made me a lot better.

"It's playbook stuff. We talk about different offenses in the NFL, and we're going to work more on that after (Pro Day). It's a lot of different things that he has learned, like what NFL coaches are looking for."

Brantley said he'll likely spend draft day on the golf course instead of staring at his television, but he's got plenty of support. Besides Chris Rainey saying that Brantley is throwing the ball "like Tom Brady," the former Florida quarterback has support at the next level, too.

"John will be in (an NFL) camp," said Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey, who was in attendance Tuesday. "He will be in a camp. Intelligence, field general—there's a lot about him that I like."

Even if he isn't drafted, Brantley just wants to find a way onto an NFL roster.

"I just want to get my foot in the door and get a chance," Brantley said. "As long as I get a chance, I'll be happy. It would be cool to get drafted and just be able to say that. Any chance I can get to get my foot in the door I'll be happy with."

RAINEY DOESN'T SHY AWAY FROM COMPARISONS: Chris Rainey has played all over the field for the Gators in his career. He doesn't know where he'll end up at the next level and part of that is by design.

"My goal is to confuse the scouts, and they'll do the rest," Rainey said with his patented grin.

He made it tougher on the scouts by running a 4.3 at Pro Day. Rainey was actually disappointed with his time but called it "good enough." Despite not reaching his proclaimed goal of wanting to run a 4.1-second 40 and break the combine record, Rainey still made an impression on the only NFL head coach in attendance.

"He's multitalented and can do a lot of things with the ball," Mularkey said. "You've just got to get the ball in his hands and let him do his things. (He's) probably a little bit like Percy (Harvin). They've got same school, same speed and same qualities of a guy that can hurt you in many ways.

"They're not the same size, but sometimes that can be an advantage in a certain way."

Rainey agreed with that comparison.

"You can compare me with him," Rainey said. "That's a perfect comparison right there. We do the same thing, but he's just bigger. That's the only difference.

"You see Wes Welker, and that's who I'm trying to be like—just faster."

The Welker comparison comes from Rainey's thought towards being a slot receiver. That idea has been floated because Rainey doesn't have ideal size but can still be a playmaker.

Rainey, who said he will be selling his special teams impact to NFL teams, has plenty of older players to lean on. The success of recent Florida teams has sent older players into the NFL, and Rainey has leaned on them recently.

They've given him advice heading into interviews and how to carry himself. Rainey wants to top what those players did in their first years in the NFL.

"I've been here for a long time," Rainey said. "Every time I look at these guys, I'm like "they left me." I've got to go catch up. I told them I'm going to do way better than them (in the NFL) my first year.

When reminded that Maurkice Pouncey was selected to the Pro Bowl, Rainey didn't shake his confidence.

"Oh, definitely," Rainey said when asked if he knew about Pouncey's rookie year.

The only hiccup for Rainey has come when NFL Teams ask him about when he was arrested for stalking for allegedly sending a former girlfriend a threatening text message in 2010. Rainey said he explains to teams that it was the first time he ever got in trouble.

"They just wanted to hear it from the horse's mouth," Rainey said. "As soon as I tell them that was the first time I was in love, they just cut it off right there."

When Rainey got to Gainesville, he didn't think there was a chance he would leave with his degree.

"I thought I was going to be three-and-out, but it didn't happen," Rainey said. "I was here five years, so I just said that since I've been here this long, I'm going to go ahead and graduate."

Rainey has his first individual meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles on April 2 and a meeting with the Cincinnati Bengals soon after that.

He'll spend draft day in Lakeland at the Pouncey's house.

HOWARD HOPING FOR SECOND ROUND: Jaye Howard said he is hearing from NFL teams that he should expect to be drafted between the second and third round.

The defensive lineman, who checked in at 6-3, 301 pounds on Tuesday, didn't run the 40, instead electing to keep him 4.75 time from the NFL Combine.

The focus for Howard is the same thing it has been since he came to Gainesville as a freshman. It's about constant effort. Howard didn't see the field early in his career because he took plays off and struggled to give effort on every play. There have been questions from NFL teams in meetings about whether or not those questions are gone, but Howard is always the same.

"My senior year was a consistent year overall. If they turn on the game film from this year, they'll see a consistent player," Howard said.

"They just want to see a continuous motor. That's why I came out here today and worked hard today in drills. That's what they're looking for."

He also benefits from having two respected NFL eyes coaching him. Former NFL defensive line coach Dan Quinn and future NFL Hall of Famer Bryant Young both helped Howard elevate his play, and the relationship there is paying dividends in how scouts view him.

"When I went to interviews, that's the first thing they asked about—(Young) and Coach Quinn," Howard siad. "How is your relationship with them? They just want to know how I get along with those guys."

Once draft day rolls around for Howard, there won't be a big party or celebration. There's only one way for him to handle it.

"I'll probably be locked in a room by myself," Howard joked.

THOMPSON FOCUSING ON HANDS: Deonte Thompson said in the fall he didn't know where his reputation came from. He was plastered with the label of a receiver that struggled catching the ball early in his career at Florida.

Thompson, who caught balls on Tuesday from Brantley and two quarterbacks from Western Carolina and Jacksonville, didn't drop a pass during his workout.

"It was important," Thompson said. "That's what they wanted to see. It was more important (than the speed)."

That came after he showcased his speed, which has never been doubted. Thompson ripped off two 40-yard dashes that ranked between 4.27 and 4.33.

With those times and his strong workout, Thompson is optimistic about his professional future.

"I know I didn't have the numbers some of these guys had, but I know what I can do," Thompson said. "I'm going to play in the league for a long time. I'm going to be good."

Thompson will spend draft weekend with his family.

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