March 3, 2006
By Jerry Hill
Waco Tribune-Herald Assistant Sports Editor
Waco is a long way from Indianapolis.
But on Thursday, Floyd Casey Stadium was turned into a scaled-down version of the NFL Scouting Combine - a "meat market" evaluation that brings in more than 300 of the nation's top players to Indianapolis every February.
While all 32 NFL teams had multiple representatives at last month's Scouting Combine, Baylor's "Pro Day" attracted nine scouts from eight different teams - the Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans.
"When we first got here, we could only get three guys to show up," said Baylor strength coach John Williams, who coordinated Thursday's session. "This is growing. Usually, you're not going to get more than nine guys unless you have a few first-round picks."
The prospects in Thursday's session were just hoping to work their way into the draft or maybe land a spot on a training-camp roster.
"The only thing that matters to me is making a team," said Baylor linebacker Colin Allred, who was clocked in 4.75 seconds in the 40-yard dash. "I don't care where I go. Really, the only difference is the signing-bonus money. I just want to make the team. That's where you get the real money."
Baylor's contingent also included linebacker Jamaal Harper, defensive tackle Michael Gary, defensive end Montez Murphy, safety Maurice Lane, offensive lineman Lequalan McDonald and wide receiver Shaun Rochon.
The 6-foot-6, 256-pound Murphy was on the scouts' most-watched list.
"I didn't do as well as I thought I would on the 40," Murphy said. "But I'm not going to let that slow me down. Basically, they can go off of the film from this past season and what I did the rest of the day."
Williams said Murphy, Harper, Lane and Rochon were helped the most.
"They showed a lot of agility, great conditioning level, good focus, good coachability," Williams said. "A few of them were disappointed in their 40 times. But you've got to take into account that we're running on a true field surface (instead of a track)."
Like Allred, Murphy said all he's looking for is a shot.
"First and foremost is just getting into a camp," he said. "When I get into camp, I can take over from there."
Harper helped his stock when he did 20 reps on the 225-pound bench press.
"If I had to pick a couple of guys, it'd probably be Jamaal Harper and Shaun Rochon," Williams said. "Just because they could eyeball them. And what Jamaal did on the 225 test, that showed a lot more strength than you can see by just looking at his body. That's really good for a guy his size."
The scouts also got a look at Mary Hardin-Baylor defensive tackle Elex Reed from Mexia and wide receiver/kick returner P.J. Williams from Rockdale, a pair of all-region and honorable mention all-America picks.
"It gets our name out there a little bit and also helps us get a little experience," Reed said. "When we go to other workouts and camps, now we kind of have an edge. We know what to expect."
The 28-year-old Williams, who spent five years in pro baseball before returning to college, said he hopes the NFL scouts don't hold his age against him.
"I guess it depends on the way you look at it," said the 6-3, 180-pound receiver. "Some people may think it's a good thing, because I'm a little older and smarter. I just feel like I've got a good chance."
Phil Tran, a 5-3 walk-on running back who graduated from Baylor in less than three years, has no delusions about having his name called out during the April 29-30 NFL draft.
He couldn't bench-press the 225-pound weight and his 40 time didn't turn heads, but he joked, "I think I really raised my stock with the Wunderlich test."
For extensive coverage of Baylor Athletics, please visit the Waco Tribune-Herald online at wacotrib.com.