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Penn State Football: Pro Day -- X Marked the Spot

by on March 18, 2010 7:00 AM

Inside Holuba Hall, over in the near left corner of Penn State’s practice facility, a white measuring tape was strung exactly 120 feet. Every 30 feet there was a five-foot wide blue line, bounded by small, fluorescent green cones. The blue lines were painted at 0, 30, 60, 90 and 120 feet.

At the end of the 40-yard stretch were two grey metal benches on the right side. On the left side was another grey metal bench, a four-step bench and a viewing stand. Bodies with stopwatches filled every seat.

At each end, the tape was attached to the green artificial turf with two overlapping pieces of white athletic tape, forming a criss-cross. For nearly two dozen former Penn State football players, “X” truly marked the spot.

“X” was where they started and finished the final 40-yard dash inside the 118,000-square-foot practice. It was where their speed was recorded and their NFL chances calculated. And it was on the field where they ran and hit and caught and tackled and got yelled at for the past four, maybe five, years.

For some players, yesterday may have finally, if not absolutely, signaled the end of their football career.

For others, it was another step in the beginning of their lives as a pro.

For three Nittany Lions -- quarterback Anthony Morelli (who last played for Penn State in 2007), kicker Kevin Kelly (2008) and safety Anthony Scirrotto (2008) -- yesterday was their second, if not their third or fourth chance, at a new beginning.

Scirrotto was drafted as a free agent after the 2008 season and spent a few weeks on the New York Giants’ practice squad in 2009. He injured a hamstring in January 2010, but seemed to be at full strength yesterday — his three-cone drill time of 6.3 seconds would have placed him among the very top finishers at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in late February.

Morelli had a summer camp cup of coffee with the Arizona Cardinals, then worked out for Green Bay and Buffalo. No luck. He was encouraged by his wife, Adrienne Squire, a Lady Lion basketball player in 2005-07, to continue his quest to play in the NFL. The couple moved to Indianapolis and Morelli stepped up his workouts.

Morelli, who will be 25 in June, prior to the workout appeared both fit and relaxed, and sounded confident -- certainly not the mental image many Penn State fans hold of the starting Lion QB in 2006 and ’07.

A few weeks ago, when the NFL Combine was in Indy, Morelli worked out for eight NFL teams. Yesterday was yet another chance.

40 DIVIDED BY 32 PLUS 22

It was Pro Day for the Nittany Lions. More than 40 representatives from all 32 National Football League teams came hundreds of miles to take an up-close look at 22 former Penn State before the NFL Draft commences at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 22, on the NFL Network.

The most prominent of the NFL talent scouts on hand was big-bellied defensive coordinator Rob Ryan of the Cleveland Browns. Ryan’s dad Buddy is a former Philadelphia Eagles head coach and brother Rex is the current head coach of the New York Jets.

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They were part of a scene that was replicated yesterday on the campuses of Florida, Tennessee, Michigan State and Illinois.

If there was a circus atmosphere in TebowhaseverythingtoGainesville, then the sunny day and heightened hopes at Holuba Hall truly made it a Happy Valley. At least before the players were X’ed out.

The former Nittany Lions walked in twos and threes from the Lasch Building -- where their height and weight were recorded and their bench presses were tallied -- to Holuba Hall at around 10:30 in the morning. The majority of the group was smiling, happy, upbeat and a bit antsy. Most chatted easily with the three reporters gathered.

A few, however, already saw the future and it was bleak.

“How many bench presses did you do?” cornerback A.J. Wallace was asked.

“Aw, 14,” he replied, clearly upset.

40-YARD DASH TIMES

Here is a rundown of 40 times. Since media were not permitted to watch the Pro Day workouts, they had to rely on reports from the players, so the accuracy may be a bit suspect.

 

  • A very probable first-round draft pick, defensive Jared Odrick, was visibly happy after running a 4.92 in the 40.
  • Faster-than-expected quarterback Daryll Clark reportedly ran a 4.6 in the 40. Clark’s dad, the other Daryll, was on hand, wearing a basketball Celtics green T-shirt. “It went great,” Clark said. “I ran well. When it came time to go do position work, I threw to the tight ends and wideouts. My timing was right and the ball came out just the way it’s supposed to.”
  • Tight end Andrew Quarless (sub-4.6) and Mickey Shuler (4.62) were both fairly quick.
  • Linebackers Sean Lee (mid 4.5s), Navarro Bowman (4.61) and Josh Hull (4.71) were in the mid 4 seconds range. Hull, by the way, sported a goatee and a mustache.
  • Former high school sprint champ Knowledge Timmons drew the biggest praise from his teammates, with a 4.39. A.J. Wallace wasn’t too far behind, at 4.45.
  • Also running were offensive linemen Dennis Landolt (5.0) and Ako Poti (5.4), and a bearded Michael Mauti (4.67).

 

BENCH PRESS

Players had to bench press 225 pounds and their total number of reps without stopping was counted.

 

  • Tops in the bench press was Shuler, with 28 reps. From Jan. 6 until last weekend, Shuler was in Florida, preparing for Pro Day. “I busted my butt down there and did everything I could for today,” he said.
  • Poti, the offensive lineman, said he was digging the California-like sunshine to the tune of 26 reps.
  • At the NFL Combine in late February, Odrick did 26 reps, Hull also did 26 reps and Clark had 21.

 



Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for StateCollege.com since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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Penn State Football: Pro Day -- Measuring Success
March 17, 2010 6:11 PM
by Mike Poorman
Penn State Football: Pro Day -- Measuring Success
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