Auburn players show off for NFL scouts at pro day
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
By EVAN WOODBERY
AUBURN — Tez Doolittle peeled off his shirt and posed somewhat awkwardly for an NFL scout/beefcake photographer who snapped poses of Auburn's muscular nose guard.
What was that all about?
"They just told me to take my shirt off and took two pictures, back and front," he said sheepishly. "I just did it. No questions."
Doolittle isn't complaining about the indignities that come with the not-so-glamorous life of an NFL prospect. He's just happy to have a chance.
If Doolittle is drafted in April — and based on the feedback Tuesday at Auburn's pro day, there's a good chance he will — it would be another chapter in an already incredible comeback story.
He suffered a torn Achilles' tendon in August 2007 and believed his career was finished. But he made a faster recovery than expected, gained a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, emerged as a starter and team leader in 2008 and now is working out in Atlanta with the intention of playing professionally.
"I've been working my tail off, day and night," Doolittle said. "I was trying to come in about 290, but I was five pounds short (285). All these guys were probably happy about that, because most of the teams don't like 315-pound linemen, they like fast, quick 285-, 290-(pounders)."
While Doolittle has been in college seemingly forever, two of the Tigers' top pro prospects are juniors entering the draft a year early.
Cornerback Jerraud Powers was pleased with his performance, and defensive end Sen'Derrick Marks, a Prichard native, said a nagging hamstring injury limited his performance.
"I knocked a lot of my numbers off about two seconds, but it's OK," Marks said.
"I'm gonna go get my hamstring right and have another workout."
Powers is working out in Los Angeles to get away from distractions in Alabama.
"After today, I think a lot of scouts saw I improved a lot," Powers said. "Going into today, I was more of a third-round or fifth-round guy, but who knows? I might have sneaked up into that second round after today. But I'm not going to worry about that. Wherever I get drafted, it will be a blessing. If I go second, if I go seventh round, it'd be a blessing either way. Because I know once I get on a team and get it going, I'll be fine."
At least one former teammate is confident. Former Auburn defensive back and current Green Bay Packer Pat Lee interrupted an interview by throwing his arm over Powers' shoulder and declaring, "You're going to make money. You've got a lot of money coming your way."
Powers said his decision to leave after his junior season had nothing to do with the change in coaching staff.
"I didn't believe my status as a corner was going to change from year to year," Powers said. "A lot of people were saying that the coaches were the factor or this was a factor, and that had nothing to do with it at all. I would have had a great time playing for coach (Gene) Chizik."
More than a dozen other players worked out for scouts, including:
-- Running back Tristan Davis, who said doctors have discovered and corrected the source of some of his chronic foot problems.
-- Linebacker Chris Evans, a Prichard native and former Blount standout. His younger brother Jonathan, who will join the team this summer, was there to watch.
-- Running back Brad Lester, who was so nervous that he threw up Tuesday morning. He calmed his nerves in time for the pro day.
"I'm pretty confident I will (be drafted), but if not that will just motivate me even more," he said.
-- Offensive lineman Tyronne Green, who was exhausted after doing a solo workout for scouts. At the NFL combine, players are in large groups, so there's plenty of rest in between.
"They were pushing me to see how I handle being tired," Green said.
-- Former linebacker Steve Gandy, who retired in August 2007 due to multiple concussions but is giving pro football one last shot.
-- Former Auburn tight end Cooper Wallace, who was cut by San Francisco last September but is hoping to pick up a camp invitation in 2009. He also said he would be looking at opportunities in the Canadian Football League.
Two players — receiver Robert Dunn and linebacker Tray Blackmon — were conspicuous by their absence. Dunn was originally listed as a participant.
Many former players attended as spectators and supporters, including Lee, Marcus McNeil, Jonathan Palmer, Pat Sims, Marquies Gunn, John Vaughn, Blake Field and Calvin Booker.
Former quarterback Brandon Cox threw passes for receivers and running backs in their drills.
"I told Cox I wish he could have played (in 2008)," said receiver Rod Smith.