UK football players show their skills for NFL scouts
There’s no way around it, former Kentucky linebacker Josh Forrest did not have a very good day at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis earlier this week.
Forrest ran 40-yard dash times of 4.91 and 4.88 — on the low end for the linebacker position — and completed only 11 reps on the bench press, the lowest total among linebackers in attendance.
The former Paducah Tilghman standout knew he needed a better showing at UK’s pro day Friday morning.
“I think it went well,” Forrest said at the end of the day. “Had a lot of fun. It was more comfortable out here with the guys I know, so I definitely think I did better.
“That was part of the reason I came back out, to show that I could do better.”
Both of Forrest’s 40 attempts Friday were clocked at 4.75, a clear improvement over his performance under the bright lights at the Combine.
Reports in the days after the Combine indicated that Forrest was ill at the event, and that had affected his numbers. He said Friday that the food he ate before taking part in the drills “didn’t sit right on my stomach,” but he declined to bow out.
“I didn’t want to not do it at the Combine just because I didn’t feel well and then have red flags,” Forrest said. “I got out there and did my best, and I knew I had another opportunity coming.”
Forrest, who is still projected as a possible late-round pick in next month’s NFL Draft, did not participate in the bench press at UK’s pro day despite his less-than-stellar showing at the Combine. “I didn’t feel like it was going to change much,” he said, noting that NFL teams have specifically told him they want to see him get stronger before the draft.
After spending the past few weeks working out with defensive guru Pete Jenkins in Louisiana — something he said helped his development — Forrest plans to stay in Lexington and work with UK strength and conditioning coach Corey Edmond in the lead-up to the draft.
“I know he has the ability to play at the next level, and hopefully his workouts will help him move up in the draft,” said UK Coach Mark Stoops. “I’m fairly confident he’ll be on a roster next year.”
By the numbers
Some other measurables from UK’s pro day:
▪ A.J. Stamps logged times of 4.53 and 4.72 in the 40 after being clocked at 4.79 at the Combine.
▪ Ryan Flannigan turned in times of 4.56 and 4.60 in the 40.
▪ Cody Quinn had 40 times of 4.55 and 4.50.
▪ Cory Johnson completed 26 reps at the bench-press station. Fellow defensive lineman Melvin Lewis had 22 reps.
Scouting the Cats
Every NFL team except for the Buffalo Bills had at least one scout in attendance at UK’s pro day.
The most famous face in the crowd was Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, who chatted with Mark Stoops throughout the event.
Lewis acknowledged that the drills players go through are important at combines like these, but he said he also watches to see how those players interact with their teammates and college coaches.
The Bengals’ coach said there’s been a noticeable difference in the type of player he sees at UK since Stoops took over.
“You can see the difference in the body types of the players and so forth,” Lewis said. “They’ve gotten much bigger and stronger, and that’s what they’re trying to build to compete in the SEC.”
The returning group of Wildcats are finishing their winter conditioning work and will be back on the field for the first practice of the spring Tuesday.
Many of those players — including Drew Barker, Matt Elam and Boom Williams — were at UK’s pro day watching their former teammates. Mark Stoops said it’s beneficial for those players to see the work that goes into a day like this.
“We’re right in the middle of doing all the work right now that really goes unnoticed,” he said. “We just wrapped up our winter conditioning where they’re lifting extremely hard and doing our fourth-quarter drills out here in the morning where they’re working very hard. That goes unnoticed, but that’s where you’re planting all those seeds for next year.
“I think it’s real important. It’s a good time for them to see that right now.”
The UK football team opens spring practice Tuesday. Workouts continue until the Blue-White Spring Game on April 16.