March 10, 2010
BERKELEY - Cal held its annual Pro Day at Memorial Stadium on Wednesday with 14 former players working out for personnel from all 32 NFL teams. The players in action included DL Tyson Alualu, DL Kevin Bemoll, LB Devin Bishop, WR Nyan Boateng, DB Marcus Ezeff, DB Bernard Hicks, FB Brian Holley, DB Brett Johnson, OL Erik Robertson, OL Chet Teofilo, OL Mike Tepper, DB Syd'Quan Thompson, WR Verran Tucker and LB Eddie Young. All but Hicks ('08) and Robertson ('06) completed their collegiate eligibility in 2009.
TB Jahvid Best was also in attendance but not did participate after having already recorded the top times by a running back in both the 40-yard dash (4.35) and three-cone drill (6.75) at the 2010 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month. Alualu, Boateng, Tepper, Thompson and Tucker were also participants at the combine.
"Jahvid did so well at the combine that there was really no reason for him to retest here," said Cal strength and conditioning coach John Krasinski. "For some of the other guys, especially those that didn't get invited to the combine, this is a very important day."
The three-hour session began at 10 a.m. PT in the weight room at Memorial Stadium with the players being measured for their height, weight, hand width and arm length. The three tests conducted in the weight room were the bench press (225 pounds), vertical jump and broad jump. The group then moved to the field where the players were timed in the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle, 60-yard shuttle and three-cone drill. The day ended with a series of positional drills.
Johnson, who was not invited to the NFL Combine, reportedly had the best mark in the vertical jump, broad jump and 40-yard dash. He set a Cal record with a 42'6" showing in the vertical jump that was better than all but three marks recorded at the NFL Combine. Johnson then went 10'9" in the broad jump, which would have finished third in Indianapolis, before running a 40-yard dash that was reportedly clocked as low as 4.30.
"This is a great opportunity for someone like Brett Johnson to show people what he's got," said Krasinski. "It's a chance for guys like him that weren't invited to the combine to compare themselves to other players at their position across the country. He really helped himself out today."
"It was really exciting to me, but it was different because I wasn't invited to the combine," said Johnson. "All of my marbles were kind of in one basket, and I hope I was able to put my name on a couple of people's lists today."
Another player in a similar situation to Johnson was Ezeff, who also hopes to have improved his professional football prospects with his performance on Wednesday. He had started alongside Johnson at Cal's other safety position in 2008 but lost his starting job as a senior last year due largely in part to a conflict that required him to attend an afternoon class that met during two of the team's three regularly scheduled practices each week.
"I think every college senior dreams of going to the NFL Combine, being under that spotlight and showing what you can do," said Ezeff. "But I knew from what happened last season that the chance for me to do that wasn't going to come and that Pro Day was going to be my main day to really stick out."
Ezeff's best 40-yard dash time Wednesday was clocked as low as 4.40.
"The 40 was going to make me or break me," said Ezeff. "I wanted to show people that I'm not a bubble guy. Today was a great day for me, but I look at it as momentum to go forward. I feel like I can be a very successful player in any situation."
Ezeff emphasized that he and Johnson were not the only former Cal players to improve their NFL stock on Wednesday.
"I feel like everybody had a great day," said Ezeff. "Everyone came out here and competed and did the best they could do. It was great for a final time to be around the seniors and competing with them once again."
Other notable performances included the bench press reps posted by Teofilo, Holley and Alualu. Teofilo lifted the 225-pound weight a personal-best 26 times, while Holley recorded 25 and Alualu put up 24, improving the number he recorded at the combine by three.
The former players not only competed before NFL personnel but also in front of an audience that included many of their Cal teammates.
"I invited all of the underclassmen to come and watch," said Krasinski. "I wanted them to see what a Pro Day is like because this is a position that most of them are going to be in down the road. It also created a great atmosphere that was conducive to outstanding performances."
Other former Cal players spotted taking in the event as spectators included Desmond Bishop, Anthony Felder, Zack Follett, Lavelle Hawkins and Worrell Williams. Bishop (Green Bay), Follett (Detroit) and Hawkins (Tennessee) are currently playing in the NFL.
The 2010 NFL Draft will take place Apr. 22-24 from Radio City Music Hall in New York City with the event being spread out over three days for the first time.