Nutter Field House was the site of March Madness with a twist Thursday morning.
Representatives of 27 pro teams were on hand for University of Kentucky football's pro day.
UK's top two draft prospects, Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke, bypassed the 40-yard dash, broad jump and vertical jump, electing to stand on the performances they turned in two weekends ago at the NFL Combine.
However, they did take part in a series of agility drills and, along with Chris Matthews, ran pass routes for quarterback Mike Hartline.
Matthews and Hartline did complete the dash and agility drills, along with fullback Moncell Allen, tackle Brad Durham, defensive end DeQuin Evans, long snapper J.J. Helton, and defensive tackles Ricky Lumpkin and Shane McCord.
Cobb, timed in 4.46 seconds for the 40 two weekends ago at Indianapolis, deemed his day as "pretty good" and "fun." Projected as a wide receiver, he also participated in a few running back drills, under the direction of Cincinnati Bengals running backs coach Jim Anderson.
"I knew I was going to run some routes out of the backfield," Cobb said. "But they grabbed me and asked me if I wanted to go over there and do it. And I said, 'whatever, let's go.' That was good experience, though."
Before the draft-eligible players worked out, many of UK's upcoming seniors went through similar drills.
"Our guys that we had ... ran well. These guys here (Cobb, Locke, et al), I don't pay attention to the ones going out," Wildcats Coach Joker Phillips said, tongue in cheek. "Because you just get upset, especially when a junior comes out.
"But this thing has evolved into being a big day for us. When we first got here in 2003, obviously there was none of you (media) here in 2003. Nobody really showed up, and there was only two or three scouts. This shows where our program has come ... and it shows that we've been doing a good job of developing players here."
Twenty-six NFL teams were represented, as well as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League.
"They're really just looking for ... how they handle themselves in cutting and controlling their body," Phillips said. "Similar stuff that we do. We look for the same thing when we go out and watch high school kids. It's the same thing, just going up to different levels."
Phillips credited Ray "Rock" Oliver, UK's director of strength and conditioning, and UK track sprints coach Erin Tucker in preparations geared specifically to pro day.
Locke, after several false starts, held his "swing" arm to his chest and ran a 4.37 at Indianapolis. He called that time "terrible," but still ranked third among 32 backs. He said he wasn't tempted to try again Thursday.
"Film don't lie," he said. "At the end of the day, you're going to look at the film. Can he separate? Do he got this breakaway speed? I'm a lot faster than my 40 shows and, if you watch film, you can notice that."
Matthews, who was not invited to the combine, said his 40 time Thursday was 4.5, just off the "high 4.4" he had set as a goal.
"It was still good for me," he said. "Basically, I just want to prove that I'm an every-down receiver. I can do anything they want me to. I told them I can go inside or outside, motion or go down and block linebackers — anybody who they want me to block. It's a team thing. I'm just trying to do everything that I possibly can to help out a team when I get to that team."
Phillips, Cobb and Locke all said it was a bonus to have Hartline throwing the passes.
"That was very important, and Mike had a great day," Cobb said. "He threw the ball really well. It was good to be back out here the last few days, being able to work with him and get that feel back.
"He knows what kind of balls I like and where I like them thrown, and I know how he's going to throw it."
Hartline said he heard "some friendly advice" from his brother, Miami Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline, during the workout: "Just to stay calm, just do what you have to do, play like you know how to play and just know that everything you do around here — the way you act, the way you do things — is important."
Mike Hartline said he showed some nervousness early, but settled down.
"I thought it came out of my hand well, I thought we completed some really good passes and I thought I showed a little bit of athletic ability," he said. "So it's nice."
Hartline reported his 40 time at 4.8.
■ The lone injury was suffered by free safety and senior-to-be Winston Guy, who tweaked a hamstring. Phillips described the injury as mild, and that he expects Guy to be ready when spring drills open March 23.
On the advice of his training staff, Phillips held several players out because of minor soreness and muscle issues. They included linebacker Danny Trevathan and cornerback Martavius Neloms.
■ The NFL teams represented at UK: Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Carolina, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Miami, Minnesota, New England, New Orleans, New York Giants and Jets, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tennessee and Washington.
At least two coaches were present — the Bengals' Anderson and Carolina offensive consultant Ricky Proehl.
The six NFL teams not represented were Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Oakland, San Diego and Tampa Bay.