Sports

Stanford football players pass the test at Pro Timing Day

 

Under the watchful eyes of a record 70 NFL coaches and scouts, 14 pro hopefuls did their best to impress Thursday in Stanford's Pro Timing Day.

"All 32 (NFL) teams were represented," said Matt Doyle, Stanford's associate athletic director and director of football operations.

Cardinal student-athletes were tested indoors and out, and many improved their status for the NFL Draft, which takes place April 30-May 2 in Chicago.

"I think the guys performed well," said defensive end Henry Anderson. "We're always trying to finish strong, and we did that today.

"They worked us out pretty freaking good. At the combine, you've got 20-25 guys, so you have rest in between each drill. This one, you're right back up again."

Evaluations started around 10 a.m. in the weight room, where student-athletes were weighed and measured, tested for their vertical leap and broad jump, then concluded with a 225-pound bench press.

Outside linebacker James Vaughters, cheered by his teammates, pumped the bar 35 times, which would have tied him for first among linebackers at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

"I wasn't too nervous," Vaughters said. "You feel the eyes on you, but we play a sport where there are eyes on you whenever you're competing. It's just like a game when you're nervous up until a certain point, then when it's time to go, it's time to go."

Fullback Lee Ward matched Vaughters' total on the bench press. Jordan Richards boasted a 34.5-inch vertical and A.J. Tarpley's broad jump of 9-7 was a session best.

Next, the proceedings moved outside to the sun-kissed Elliott Practice Fields, where interested onlookers included Stanford's former offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, who now holds a similar position with the Indianapolis Colts.

Student-athletes were timed in the 40-yard dash, 20- and 60-yard shuttle, and three-cone agility test, and also participated in position-specific drills. Most of the outdoor drills were broadcast nationally live on ESPN3.

"It's definitely nerve-racking for some guys," said former Cardinal standout running back Tyler Gaffney, now a member of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and one of many former Stanford players in attendance. "It's a great opportunity to show some things that you wouldn't see on the field. You can definitely improve your draft stock."

Many did, including wide receiver Ty Montgomery. He wasn't at full-strength at the NFL Combine, but stood out Thursday, posting unofficial times of 4.38 in the 40, 4.23 in the shuttle and 7.02 in the three-cone drill.

"I was lighter and felt more flexible," said Montgomery. "I've shed 10 pounds and got my stride back."

What helped him stay calm on the field?

"Most importantly, I was able to sleep," he said. "At the combine, I got no sleep. I didn't go to bed until 1:30 a.m. and woke up at 6 a.m. to go perform. I didn't do horribly, but I did a lot better out here."

Offensive tackle Andrus Peat, whom many predict will be a high first-round draft pick, spent considerable time doing pass blocking and agility drills for the coaches and scouts.

"I was expecting it," Peat said of the day's events. "I've been through some of that stuff before, but it was more rapid. We got some good work in today."

Peat felt good about his performance.

"I wanted to show some of the stuff I had out here, some athleticism and footwork, and I thought I did that," he said.

Also making a good impression was defensive tackle David Parry.

"It went well," said Parry. "It was good to get out here after working so hard for this day and to perform with my teammates one last time. Sleeping was a little bit tougher last night, but once it's time to perform, you just block it all out and go."

Shannon Turley, Stanford's strength and conditioning director, had the Cardinal student-athletes primed for the workouts.

"We didn't know which drills we would be doing, but Coach Turley had been preparing us and said to be ready to work," said Parry. "Some guys (coaches and scouts) come out here and try to break you a little bit and see just how athletic and tough you are."

Vaughters agreed.

"You can just feel when they're focusing in how well you take their coaching and see how you follow directions," he said. "I feel like most of the guys did well."

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Kicker Jordan Williamson boomed a 55-yard field goal and did well on kickoffs, while punter Ben Rhyne turned in a solid showing.

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Gaffney, who spent last season on injured reserve, has been taking classes and working out on campus. "I actually have my last final today in data analysis," said Gaffney, now 100 percent healthy. Gaffney went through Pro Timing Day last year and said most players are adept at balancing workouts and finals. "These are Stanford guys for a reason," he said. "They're going to take care of their work on the field and finish up in the classroom."

* * *

Vaughters on the good impression Cardinal players made Thursday: "We've always had talent. That's what's made us as good as we've been the last few years and I think it's going to continue to be like that."

* * *

Montgomery was appreciative of the support he received Thursday from family and friends.

"It means the world to me because my family is my foundation," said Montgomery. "To be able to make them proud and see the smiles on their faces, that motivates me."

Regardless of what happens in the draft, Montgomery isn't about to change.

"I'm so critical of myself," he said. "I just want to have fun and relax. No matter what happens, be myself and don't let fame change me, don't let money change me. I'm going to stay the same humble Ty Montgomery from Dallas, Texas, born in Jackson, Mississippi, with 17 foster brothers."

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