Finding an unhappy former Buckeye was no easy task when Ohio State held its annual Pro Day on March 11 at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus.
All eight players who ran at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis two weeks earlier and posted better times in Columbus, and everyone who stuck around for interviews when it was over said he felt at least satisfied with his performance.
With representatives from 29 teams in attendance, the biggest gainer was the player for whom the 40 arguably is least important, but offensive lineman Justin Boren was feeling good just the same.
“After the combine, there was half of the stuff I felt good about and half of it I wanted to do better and I’m pretty happy,” he said after posting a top time of 5.19 that is .35 better than he put up at the combine.
Boren, who played guard at Ohio State and can also play center, vertically jumped 32 inches and made an eight-foot broad jump in the friendly confines of the WHAC.
“You’re in the place you’ve been training for your whole career so I think it puts you a little bit at ease,” said Boren, who battled a sore ankle in Indianapolis that he said was heeled now. “The combine just has all the cameras, so many people, but it’s nice working out here.”
The next biggest improvement in the 40 belonged to cornerback Devon Torrence, whose 4.5-second running was .18 better than he ran in Indianapolis, while wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher ran a 4.48 in Columbus to improve on a 4.59 he came away from the combine with.
“I’ve never thought it was a huge deal, but in this process you’re only tested on so many criteria so you’ve got to do what you can to be good in those events,” Sanzenbacher said. “I don’t know how many times I’ll run a straight 40 out on the field, but it helps to put that out there I guess.”
“I feel like it’s one of those things that can only help you. It’s something teams look at. Some of the best receivers in the league don’t run blazing 40s, but they’re good at what they do.”
Safety Jermale Hines and Ross Homan improved their times by .09 and .08, respectively, when both posted 4.68s in Columbus.
Hines, who did both defensive back and linebacker drills, acknowledged putting a lot of stock in his time while Homan did not seem too stressed out either way.
“I think it was huge,” said Hines. “People wanted to see me run straight ahead. I think that was a question, that and my hips, but I think I did a very good job of answering. I think I can compete against the best of them in both. The whole process I feel has been very good for me and helpful.”
“My game speed is faster,” Homan said. “That’s kind of what I rely on. I don’t put a whole lot on the 40, but I’m happy with what I ran.”
The one player who ran in Indianapolis but not Columbus was Chimdi Chekwa. The cornerback chose to stick by his 4.4-second 40, but he did go through defensive back drills conducted by Cincinnati Bengals assistant Kevin Coyle.
Of course, several of the players were not working on improving past performances. Defensive lineman Dexter Larimore, offensive linemen Bryant Browning, Connor Smith and Josh Kerr, tight end Ricky Crawford, wide receivers Taurian Washington and Grant Schwartz, kicker Devin Barclay and long snapper Jake McQuaide all saw their first and perhaps only chances to work out for scouts come on Pro Day as they were not invited to the combine.
“It’s not like, ‘Oh, he didn’t go to the combine, now he can’t get drafted,’ ” said Larimore, who put up 32 reps in the bench press and ran a 5.16-second 40-yard dash. “I still had an opportunity here today and I took full advantage of my opportunity.”
As a four-year contributor, Larimore figures to be one of the best shots to get a chance in the NFL along with three-year starter Browning.
Browning did not run the 40-yard dash because of a slight hamstring strain. He plans to do so on March 30 when former teammate Cameron Heyward is scheduled to work out at the WHAC. Heyward was not able to work out at the combine or on Pro Day because of elbow surgery.
For more on the rest of the Buckeyes and their performances, click here.