March 16, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State held its annual Pro Day Wednesday afternoon (March 16) at the Duffy Daugherty Indoor Football Building. Thirteen seniors from the 2010 team auditioned in front of National Football League scouts in preparation for the upcoming NFL Draft. Twenty-eight scouts representing 24 NFL teams attended the event.
"When you have players reaching the next level, that means your program has a chance to be successful," said MSU head coach Mark Dantonio, who attended Pro Day and watched a majority of the drills. "These players have worked hard for this moment. I'm proud of what this class accomplished at Michigan State and it was great to see them have an opportunity to showcase their skills in front of so many scouts from around the NFL."
Several scouts in attendance paid close attention to Greg Jones, a two-time All-America linebacker at Michigan State who participated in the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. Jones ran the 40-yard dash during MSU's Pro Day and also took part in individual drills.
"It was just so good to have all of the guys there," Jones said, as many of his former teammates watched on. "I've been working with a lot of those guys for four years. I was happy about my performance today. My 40 was a lot better than at the combine, I felt more relaxed."
Although not invited to the NFL Combine, All-Big Ten linebacker Eric Gordon displayed his athleticism with an outstanding performance at MSU's Pro Day. Gordon began the day with a 40.5-inch vertical leap, which would have placed him in the top 10 at the NFL Combine among all players. He then recorded a 10'7" broad jump, which also would've ranked among the top 15 at the NFL Combine. In addition, Gordon did 25 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press.
"It definitely gets your adrenaline rushing a little more," Gordon said of working out in front of the NFL scouts. "When you're training, you still get a little excited when you go out and test the 40 one day, but it's nothing like having all of these scouts, and there was a ton of spectators here too.
"When I was training, I was in a different environment around different people, and you're trying to fit in and act a certain way. But once I came back and I saw Greg, Ruck, and Charlie, you kind of feel back at home. The amount of times I ran on this turf and benched in that weight room is countless.
"I think what the coaches have put into our brains is being mentally tough," said Gordon of how his time at Michigan State prepared him for Pro Day. "That comes out today. I was getting pretty nervous but you have to just fight through adversity and fight through that nervousness and push everything off to the side. They taught me a lot of toughness, endurance and strength to finish."
"Eric's an explosive player who started here from day one - he started more games at Michigan State than any other player in program history," said Dantonio. "He has great power. A lot of players his size are in the NFL. I believe he has the skill and determination to succeed at the next level."
"I think everybody did a good job and came out and competed," Gantt said. "I improved on my times (from the combine), I was happy with that, and I worked hard in my drills and caught the ball well."
"Coming off a knee injury, I felt like I did fairly good," said Dell, who did not participate in any drills at the NFL Combine, just interviews. "This is my first time coming out to run routes (since the injury) and cutting and everything. I felt like I really didn't even pay attention to the scouts once I got going. It definitely helped being here. This is a long, grueling process. You're working out for two to three months, so it will finally feel good to take a few days off."
"It felt good, being able to compete in front of everybody, family, friends, teammates and scouts," said Rucker. "I thought my testing went good...This was some of the most nervous times in my life coming up to this point. There was a lot more pressure at the combine. Being here, it was more of a comfort zone because you work out here all the time."
All-Big Ten punter Aaron Bates, Nick Bendzuck, J'Michael Deane, Jesse Johnson, Jon Misch, Alex Shackleton, John Stipek and D.J. Young also participated in the event. Young led all participants on the bench press with 36 reps.
The NFL Draft is set for April 28-30 in New York City.