...One of the local sleepers is Akron linebacker Ryan Myers (6-1, 245, 4.63) of Wellington, Ohio. He played outside as a junior and inside as a senior and had great games against schools such as Marshall (10 tackles), Ohio State (13 tackles and a sack) and Purdue (10 tackles). He's an academic All-America who was the Zips' Most Outstanding Junior in 2001. He was a former Ohio state prep wrestling champion at 215 pounds. One writer reported that Myers "brings back memories of another former linebacker from the state of Ohio -- Chris Spielman. He's a hard-nosed, instinctive, sure tackler with a nose for the ball."
... Looking for a late-round kick returner? West Georgia's Detronn Harris (6-1, 195) was recently timed at a top end of 4.4 at the Georgia Tech pro day. He was recruited by Auburn and Georgia but went the junior-college route before finishing with the D-2 Braves. Harris had 63 catches and averaged 26.8 yards per kickoff return last season. In high school, against North Atlanta, Westlake's Harris scored six touchdowns, including four on punt returns and one on a kickoff return. You wonder if the opposing special-teams coach kept his job.
... Steelers scout Bruce "Chilly" McNorton knows all about sleeper offensive lineman Reese Hicks (6-5, 299) of Georgetown. That's because McNorton attended the NAIA school in Kentucky before playing in the NFL for the Detroit Lions. Hicks was one of the reasons the Tigers won two consecutive NAIA national championships. They lost a potential third this season in the finals to Carroll College. Hicks was at the combine, but only to pass out highlight tapes and arrange workouts with scouts, who believe he has the ability with his lean frame to gain 15 more pounds. Scouts also believe the powerful G-town LT will have to move to RT or guard in the pros.
... Carson Palmer worked out in front of a Cincinnati Bengals draft team that includes Katie Blackburn. We're uncertain whether the inclusion of the vice-president will help turn the Bengals around, but we are certain that Palmer would. However, the Bengals will likely find a way to botch this gimme. The guess is Blackburn made the trip to help contract negotiations, which they're starting with 3-5 players. Who needs a scout when you're only looking for a cheap signing?
... Middle Tennessee State RB Dwone Hicks heard boos and cackles from scouts when he declined to run at the combine, but some still made the trip to his pro day where Hicks ran in the 4.54 to 4.62 range. A waste of time and travel? Well, his explosiveness was evident after an injury-plagued season.
... South Florida's Shurron Pierson ran a 4.63 at the combine to rank a nanosecond behind Cincinnati's Antwan Peek as the quickest defensive ends, or perhaps 3-4 OLBs. At his pro day, Pierson reportedly measured less than 6 percent body fat and hit the top of the vertical-jump machine on his first attempt, which would be 45 inches. He came back and jumped 42 inches on his second attempt. Scouts also noticed the workout record board in the South Florida gym is dominated by Pierson's achievements. On grass, he ran the 40 in 4.4 but it was his combine run that stands out most. All scouts want is one consistent surface in order to compare times properly. That Pierson had the courage to run at the combine, and run well, should help his status immensely. He's also, at 20, one of the youngest players available for the draft.
... Carson-Newman RB Randy Bell (5-9 1/3, 210) reportedly ran a 4.35 40 at the Miss State pro day. Speaking of which, Bulldogs TE Donald Lee ran a 4.61 carrying 250 pounds and had a vertical jump of 38.5 inches.
... Penn State DE Michael Haynes ran the 10-yard dash in 1.65 seconds. Just thought you needed to know.
... Maryland punter Brooks Barnard did 20 reps of 225 pounds, or one more than supposed all-world DE Terrell Suggs, who cost himself millions with a poor pro day at Arizona State.
... Another unheralded return man is South Florida's DeAndrew Rubin, who ran a 4.36 on grass and caught everything thrown his way at his workout. He's being compared to Steve Smith of Carolina and Deion Branch of New England.
... Did anyone ever gain 10 pounds of non-muscle? It's a version of another cliche that has to go. Same with "scouts were drooling." Writers embarrass two professions with that one.
... What to make of Temple's Dan Klecko? He's only 6-foot, 273, but nose tackles who work as hard as he does, and with his pedigree, deserve a second look, and that's what teams are doing. He has five private workouts scheduled for early April.
... Kentucky SS David Johnson (5-10 5/8, 213) ran a 4.6 with an outstanding 6.72 3-cone drill. He could be a late-round special-teams gem.
... Murray State CB Malcolm Moore performed in front of only one scout and ran a 4.5 and lifted the bar 8 times, or 7 more than did Fred Smoot two years ago. Why do notes services report this stuff?
... Another Syracuse 40 false prophet? CB Latroy Oliver ran 4.38 on the notoriously fast track. Speaking of which, Virginia Tech underclassman DeAngelo Hall broke the school record with a 4.15 time at Blacksburg. He's not coming out, but Va. Tech is really rubbing people the wrong way with its preposterous times.
... Late-round QB alert: Mt. Union's Rob Adamson (6-4, 221) worked out Friday at Kent State for 10 teams. He ran a 4.79 40 and threw well, especially the 15-20 yard out. He's the darkhorse choice of respected Dallas Morning News football writer Rick Gosselin. Adamson has several private workouts scheduled.
... Thanks go out to Gosselin, who has upgraded USC SS Troy Polamalu to No. 2 on his safety rankings behind Arkansas' Ken Hamlin, as well as the aforementioned Young, who's made it easy to write without really writing.
By Jim Wexell
Steel City Sports.com
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