By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — In the past, Oklahoma’s Pro Day has featured some big names putting on prime time performances. They include quarterback Sam Bradford, linebacker Torrence Marshall, safety Roy Williams and tackle Trent Williams, who all used the event to bolster their stock in the NFL draft.
However, this year was a little different. Instead of the sure fire first-round picks or big name quarterbacks looking to solidify a spot, this year’s Pro Day was more workman like. The 23 players who showed up at the Everest Indoor Training Facility Wednesday were fighting to hold on to a dream.
“I was just trying to open some eyes,” Norman North alum Beau Blankenship said. “Trying to show them what I can do. Coming from a little bit smaller school, this is good opportunity to get out here in front of all these scouts.”
Blankenship played at the University of Ohio but knew he would find a bigger crop of NFL scouts at the Sooners’ Pro Day. The 5-foot-8, 206-pound tailback got a hold of the OU coaching staff to see if they had room for him to take part in their Pro Day in his hometown of Norman.
Other surprise participants included quarterback Drew Allen, who had transferred to Syracuse. He was accompanied by former four-time Pro Bowl quarterback Jeff Garcia, who has worked with Allen and WR Lacolton Bester.
Also on hand was tailback Damien Williams, who was kicked off the team late in the season. Neither he nor Allen had a tremendous day, but each had their good moments.
The Sooners’ pro day lasted five hours as the NFL hopefuls went through drills such as the 40-yard dash, broad jump, 60-yard shuttle and various positional workouts.
It was the first time former Sooners’ linebacker Corey Nelson was seen in action since suffering a torn pectoral muscle against TCU on Oct. 5. The 6-0 senior applied for a medical redshirt, but was denied by the Big 12 and NCAA.
“I felt like (the appeal) set me back a little bit,” Nelson said. “But once everybody found out I was coming out, things were quickly set in motion. I feel like I’m 100 percent. I feel like I’m back where I need to be. I’m back to feeling like I felt back at the beginning of the season. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Fullback Trey Millard also is recovering from an injury during the season and has his sights on making it to the league.
“I’m running pretty confidently,” Millard said. “The next step is kind of changing direction. Right now, I’m just running straight, but I’m doing well with it. It’s encouraging. There’s still a lot of interest (from NFL teams). Unfortunately, I’m not able to really do anything here, but there’s quite a bit of film from over the years, so hopefully that speaks for itself.”
Some of the top performances of the day included offensive lineman Bronson Irwin lifting 225 pounds 30 times, receiver Jaz Reynolds’ 10’5 broad jump and running back Roy Finch posting a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash.
“I felt I did pretty good.” Finch said. “Just very solid in the running back drills. Wanted to show them I can play slot, catch the ball real good out of my break. Just be very explosive in everything and finish. And be one of the top performers and have them walk away and say he was a very explosive player, we want him on our team. I feel like I came up with a pretty impressive performance.”
While Finch was able to show all his skills, former Sooner tailback Dominique Whaley wasn’t able to do as much. Whaley, who injured his leg two years ago, participated in the Pro Day last year, but he wasn’t fully healthy and didn’t have a good performance.
Whaley came into this feeling better, and it showed when he posted a 37.125 vertical jump and a 4.50 40-yard dash. However, he pulled up lame at the end of the run with a strained hamstring.
“The day was going pretty well,” Whaley said. “I was showing explosiveness. The key things everybody questioned. I wish I’d been able to do the rest of the drills so that I can show them I can cut, too. Hopefully they saw enough here to give me a workout. Once I get this healed up, then I can go out and perform for them.”
Follow me @eyeamtruth
Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.