March 14, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State held its annual Pro Day Wednesday afternoon (March 14) at the Duffy Daugherty Football Building indoor practice facility. Fifteen former Spartans, including 10 seniors and two juniors from the 2011 team, auditioned in front of National Football League scouts in preparation for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Fifty-two NFL personnel representing 31 teams attended the event, including Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, and credentials were issued to 53 media members.
"A lot of these guys have prepared and they've put everything into trying to get to this point," said MSU head coach Mark Dantonio, who was on hand to watch his former players participate in Pro Day. "As they come in as a freshman, as they're being recruited, I think they all look forward to this day. So it's come to fruition right now, which is a big positive. A lot of these guys have taken the last two, three months and have gone someplace else and trained specifically for these things.
"It all started back when they were recruited here and when they came here for the first time. It's a journey, it's a long journey, but they're now to a point where they're seeing the results of their work."
All six of Michigan State's invitees to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis - Edwin Baker, Kirk Cousins, B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, Trenton Robinson and Jerel Worthy - participated in drills for scouts and coaches.
Both Baker and Robinson improved on their 40-yard dash times from the NFL Combine. Baker, who averaged a time of 4.53 seconds in his times in Indianapolis, averaged a 4.43 on Wednesday. Robinson went from 4.52 seconds to 4.46.
"(Trenton) is not going to be afraid to compete," Dantonio said. "He's going to put it on the line every time he steps out there."
Cousins, who owns nearly every passing record at Michigan State, only took part in position drills. He threw to some of his favorite Spartan targets from the last few seasons, including Baker, Cunningham, Martin, Brian Linthicum and Keith Nichol.
"The combine was a different atmosphere," said Cunningham. "This felt a lot better, more at home, back with my friends and my wideouts. It was a great experience. The combine was too, I met a lot of new people and soaked it all in. You only do this here once and I had a great time. With Kirk throwing me the ball, I felt like I was back at practice. I'm excited to see what happens."
"When you see all the interest from media and from coaches, I think it shows how far the program has come here," Cousins said. "(It shows the) interest there is on the outside to take a look at all of the talent."
For the players not invited to the NFL Combine, it was a chance to showcase their skills to the entire league.
"It's a big day," said Dantonio on the players who were testing in front of NFL personnel for the first time. "I think it's an opportunity to show out to some of these guys; a lot of coaches are here, which I think is important as the scouts."
One player who took advantage of his opportunity was Nichol, who posted the highest vertical leap of the afternoon at 39.5 inches. Nichol worked out as both a wide receiver and a quarterback in the position drills.
"Keith's an outstanding athlete and he's very explosive," said Dantonio. "He can play a multitude of positions. I think he'll be a guy that will have an opportunity at the next level."
"It's a long, grueling day, and it's really hard to peak out and do your top performance in every single thing," said Nichol. "But I heard really good things and that I helped myself."
Todd Anderson led the way on the bench press with 35 reps of 225 pounds. He was followed by Linthicum and Worthy, who each put up 28 reps.
"Just lay it all out on the field, do the best of my ability, and show them everything that I bring to the table," Linthicum said on what he wanted to accomplish at Pro Day. "And I think I did that. I even laid out a couple of times to show that I will give up my body to make a play, even if it's just in here throwing balls, this stuff is important to me, and I think they got that today."
"A lot of guys were pushing each other, so it was just a great opportunity to be out here and be able to work out one last time with your fellas before we all branch out and go our different ways," said All-America defensive tackle Jerel Worthy. "It was a blessing, just to be able to share this opportunity with your friends as well as your coaches and support staff, and people that have always taken care of me over these last few years."
Numerous former players, including Super Bowl Champions Greg Jones and Devin Thomas of the New York Giants, along with Mark Dell, Andrew Hawken, Jeff McPherson, Jon Misch, Javon Ringer, Chris L. Rucker and D.J. Young, were in attendance.
Before leaving for Columbus, Ohio, for the NCAA Tournament, men's basketball coach Tom Izzo also stopped by Pro Day to chat with Dantonio and show support for the Spartan football program.
The 2012 NFL Draft will be conducted April 26-28 (Thursday, April 26 - first round; Friday, April 27 - second and third rounds; and Saturday, April 28 - fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds) at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.