The knock on former Kentucky linebacker Avery Williamson was he was too slow to play in the NFL.
At last season's NFL Combine, he showed a much speedier side of himself, finishing 11th or better in four of the six workouts for his position.
"I really did get a lot faster," said Williamson, who was drafted in the fifth round by the Tennessee Titans, for whom he had a successful rookie year. "My 40 time showed it. I really just worked on my form and being more explosive, that's really the main thing."
The 6-foot-1, 246-pounder didn't have to go far to find an NFL training guru.
Williamson stayed at Kentucky and worked with Erik Korem and his staff. And now this season's crop of NFL hopefuls is doing the same thing, the UK high-performance coach said last week.
"Every single guy stayed," Korem told the Herald-Leader. "They saw Avery's results and realized they didn't have to go anywhere else."
Two to three hours a day, five days a week, Korem has been training players like defensive ends Alvin "Bud" Dupree and Za'Darius Smith, as well as running back Braylon Heard. All three have received invitations to the NFL Scouting Combine on Feb. 20-23.
Korem also has been training other NFL hopefuls like wide receiver Javess Blue, tight ends Steven Borden and Ronnie Shields, defensive end Mike Douglas, defensive backs Eric Dixon and Nate Willis as well as fullback D.J. Warren.
"It's a lot of fun," Korem said of training, which he's done for several years. "I really enjoy it. It's unique because they're highly motivated and they'll do whatever you ask them to do."
Korem's professional history with track and field, including working as a speed development consultant during the 2008 Olympics, makes him well suited to improve the Pro Day numbers for many of the players.
"It's more like a decathlon training because they have so many different events in one day," Korem said. "You've got sprint, agility drills, jumping drills, it's like a decathlon. The training is a lot different. It's for pure power, pure speed and it's fun for me because of my track background. I get to go back into that mode a little bit."
On loan to Korem is a $35,000 isotonic sprint device that helps the staff create individual sprint profiles of each player and adjust his training to what he needs to do specifically for his body. They also film drills and discuss fluid body movements among other things.
"You can get really, really individualized, really, really specialized and do some cool trick to get guys to peak at a really high level at a certain time," he noted.
After training with Korem in the mornings, many of the players come back in the afternoon to do positional field drills to prepare for the combine.
"We really do have a sweet system set up," Korem said.
It's so sweet that several NFL players, including Williamson, are back to train at Kentucky this offseason.
"When people are coming to your facility, there's obviously something good going on," the high-performance coach said.
And having those NFL players in the building is good for Kentucky's current players as is seeing the changes in the bodies of players like Dupree, Smith and Borden, who have cut out stressors and distractions and focused on their training, Korem said.
"It's a good example for the younger players that 'I'm a pro and I still have to work really, really hard,'" Korem said. "Actually I have to work harder now because it's my job. It's been good for everyone involved."
Obviously, not every player working with UK's high-performance guide is going to get drafted and play at the highest level, but Korem is excited to see the numbers growing and he hopes to see good results at Kentucky's annual Pro Day on March 13.
"Avery's results were a combination of Avery, effort and training," Korem said. "I don't promise the guys that they're all going to blow it up because part of it is your skill level and part of it is your effort. But the guys have been doing pretty good.
"I'm really pleased, excited to see them go out and run, put on a show and hopefully we'll get a few more guys drafted this year."
Super Bowl ad: Why Not?
If history holds, you might want to hold off on that run to the kitchen for bean dip during the break between the second quarter and the halftime show of the Super Bowl.
That's where the local Kentucky football ad has run each of the last two seasons. And while officials wouldn't confirm when one will run during the Super Bowl this year, they did confirm an ad was in the works.
It's an important time to talk to fans about football, UK assistant athletic director for marketing and licensing Nathan Schwake said.
"It's a unique opportunity for us to push the season ticket message at the end of January or early February," he said of the spots, which cost roughly $10,000. "We try to make a statement and take advantage of the highest profile TV night of the year."
The spots also do well on social media, including the last two combining to garner nearly 250,000 views on YouTube.
Two years ago it was the Air Raid sirens set in a stormy Commonwealth Stadium with clips from Coach Mark Stoops' introductory news conference.
Last year, it was clips of star players and potential future stars and Stoops reminding: "Why here? Why Kentucky? I said, 'Why not?' It can be done here. It will get done here."
Schwake didn't offer any hints about this season's ad, though. "Just watch and see."
For the second straight year, Kentucky plans to offer a behind-the-scenes signing-day show that will be broadcast live on ukathletics.com and SEC Network Plus.
Wednesday's show will include access to Stoops and his staff as well as a special X's and O's room where UK color commentator Jeff Piecoro will break down film of the signees. Coverage is expected to begin at 8 a.m.
Last season's show included multiple rooms, six cameras, a production truck and a freelance director, director of UK sports video Shane Fannin said.
He expected even bigger and better things for this season's show, which will include interviews with Kentucky's early high school enrollees and Nebraska transfers tight end Greg Hart and linebacker Courtney Love.
"We have a good template now," Fannin said shortly after last season's show ended. "What we have is a good solid foundation, and a lot of schools will look at it and come out with their own shows next year."
Updates on a couple of things we've talked about in the notebook the past few weeks:
■ A UK official indicated that the Cats would like to have a new 2016 opponent set (to replace the University of Alabama-Birmingham) before signing day, but that timeline has changed. Kentucky is in a "holding pattern" on that now, spokesman Tony Neely said.
■ The company to install the turf at Commonwealth Stadium has been contracted and the type of turf has been announced, but other details like field designs and goal post plans are still being worked out.
■ A schedule for UK spring football has not been set, nor have the open scrimmages and practices, Neely said.