Kentucky seniors post stunning numbers on Pro Day

jsmith3@herald-leader.comMarch 14, 2014 

  • NFL Draft

    Round 1: May 8

    Rounds 2-3: May 9

    Rounds 4-7: May 10

    Top five picks: Houston, St. Louis, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland

Pro Days were created for players like Jonathan George.

Kentucky's senior running back stayed on campus after the season ended, he worked hard to get his body in prime condition.

And then with 20 scouts from various NFL teams and one arena league team watching, stopwatches firmly in hand, George let it rip.

The results of his time in the 40-yard dash aren't released publicly, but the running back said he was told he ran a 4.45.

"That was big," he said. "Being 225 pounds, I feel like that's a pretty good time."

If he had been invited to the NFL Combine a few weeks ago like UK teammate linebacker Avery Williamson, George's time would've been tied for fourth-best among all running backs.

George, who hasn't even hired an agent yet, doesn't know what this magic number will mean for him or his future, but he hopes it opens some doors.

"I feel like maybe after this performance I'll have some teams calling," he said. "I was hoping this Pro Day would give me the opportunity to get my name on the map and have some organizations call."

George's number impressed Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops, who stopped at the private event in the Nutter Field House, to offer support to the 13 former UK players performing various drills.

"He went out and ran a heck of a time this morning," Stoops said of George.

Williamson is the Kentucky player with the best chance of being drafted in early May. The linebacker from Milan, Tenn., already has a scheduled visit with the Tennessee Titans at the end of the month.

He went through the NFL Combine and had impressive numbers there as well, running a 4.66 in the 40-yard dash, tying him for sixth in his position group.

Because he was so pleased with his showing at the combine, Williamson opted to just go through positional drills for scouts on campus Friday, including some new ones he'd never done before.

That made him a little jittery, but he said after a few repetitions, he was able to do what the scouts asked.

Being at the field house where he'd worked so many days for the past four seasons and being in front of his former teammates — 50 or more decided to come watch and cheer on the seniors and past players participating — made it an easier day for Williamson.

"I was a lot more nervous in Indy," he said of the combine. "Being here, my nerves weren't as bad, so I was focused in."

Stoops encouraged his staff and current players to be there.

"We're all proud of these guys," Stoops said of the participants, who took part in various drills including vertical jump, shuttle runs, bench press and positional drills.

"I love these guys. They put their heart and souls into this program. They've really embraced us in this new coaching staff and the change. None of these kids asked for that. It's never easy for the seniors to come in and deal with the new coaching staff and have to learn a new system and all those things, but they've been very good, working hard."

Players working out for the scouts (five fewer than last season's Pro Day) were running backs George and Raymond Sanders, fullback Cody Jones, walk-on wide receiver Muhammad Saifullah as well as tight ends Jordan Aumiller and Anthony Kendrick.

Jones, the former Whitley County standout, bench pressed the standard 225 pounds a staggering 29 times. George completed 22 reps. For reference, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina, considered by many to be the draft's No. 1 pick, completed 21 during the combine.

Seniors on the other side of the ball included defensive tackles Mister Cobble and Donte Rumph, Williamson and kicker Joe Mansour.

As the team improves and even more highly rated talent gets on campus, Stoops hopes to see the event get more impressive.

"We want to see this Pro Day continue to grow and get more and more folks here," he said. "We're proud of these guys, and we want them to go on and do well in the NFL or whatever they decide to do."

Notes

■ Offensive lineman Kevin Mitchell opted out of Pro Day after accepting a job in the private sector in Georgia, a UK spokesman said.

■ Three seniors from the 2012 team, running back CoShik Williams, wide receiver Aaron Boyd and cornerback Cartier Rice, had another go at Pro Day.

■ More than 13,400 Blue-White Spring Game tickets had been distributed as of Thursday, a UK spokesman said. General public availability starts on Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Due to construction at Commonwealth Stadium, seating in the south lower and south upper level sidelines will not be available, so spring game capacity will be 42,500. Last year's spring game attendance was a school-best 50,831.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader.Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com.

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