CORAL GABLES – The Hurricanes’ initial Pro Timing Day March 10 prematurely ended and had to be rescheduled because of a storm.
Friday, 15 UM NFL hopefuls were back on the field hoping to impress scouts from about 20 teams.
“We are about one month away from the NFL Draft now and it is getting closer every day,” CB Brandon Harris said. “This is another chance to get out in front of scouts and show what we can do and it is probably our last time working on these practice fields, so it is bittersweet.”
Here is a look at some of UM’s draft hopefuls:GRAIG COOPER
Cooper said he felt Friday went well for him, adding “I really just wanted to show I’m a good athlete and they wouldn’t make a mistake by picking me.”
One thing Cooper wasn’t happy about: his time in the 40-yard dash (4.66 seconds).
“I haven’t run a 4.6 since 10th grade in high school — it is tough coming off a knee injury,” said Cooper, who underwent major surgery after the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl. “I guess I’m just going to have to keep working, But I’m not really worried about the 40, though, because I know when I get out on that field it’s different.”
The RB’s surgically repaired knee continues to be something NFL teams wonder about. Cooper says while he doesn’t have the same speed as before his injury, he’s still quick and feels he showed that in drills Friday.
Cooper said he has meetings set up with the Eagles on April 4 and Dolphins on April 8. He said he has tried not to pay attention to draft projections for him, nor does he think about his draft prospects had he not injured his knee or had he not decided last spring to return for his senior season.
“I’m just concentrating about right now,” he said. “I’ve just got to try to work on the future. That’s all I can control.”BRANDON HARRIS
Harris, the lone UM junior to declare early for the draft, said he felt more relaxed Friday than at the Combine.
“I felt I had a good showing at the Combine. A lot of coaches called me and complimented me on my drill work and how sound my technique was,” he said. “But [Friday], I felt cleaner [in my performance].”
Harris, who said he has done several private workouts for teams here in Miami and has some visits scheduled during the next month, said he wanted to show his ball skills in drills Friday.
“A lot of people had questions about my hands and if I can catch it. I just wanted to go out and show I can make plays on the ball.”
What does Harris want to accomplish between now and the draft in his workouts for teams?
Harris said he wants to show his versatility.
“And I want to show people mentally and physically I’m prepared to be on the next level,” he said. “Sometimes guys come out [of college] early and teams have a lot of questions. Is he ready? Is he big enough? Is he smart enough to handle the adjustments? I just want to show people I can do it all – I’m a well-rounded player.”
Harris has been projected to go either in the first or second round. He said “it wouldn’t be a big disappointment” if he isn’t drafted in the first round.
“Everybody has their own opinion and I respect everybody’s opinion,” he said. “I think I’m worthy of being a top pick. I know I can get the job done, but that’s something I can’t control. The only thing I can do is show my strengths and show teams I’m ready to be an NFL player.
Once draft day hits, wherever I land I’ll be happy and I’ll be blessed to be in the NFL period, whether it’s the first round or the fourth round.”
Harris added of his decision to leave UM early, “I’ll never second-guess myself. I feel fully confident in myself.”DAMIEN BERRY
Berry was pleased with his showing Friday.
“I did pretty well. It was faster than I thought it was going to be,” said Berry, who ran the 40 in 4.53 seconds. “I think I showed I have good hands and my footwork is phenomenal. I think I showed I’m tough.”
While some don’t like the draft process, which involves complete dissection of your abilities, Berry said the experience been positive.
“You just take it how it is and you’ve just got to prove them wrong once you get out on the field,” Berry said. “You get on a team and you make the other teams pay.”DEMARCUS VAN DYKE
Van Dyke was one of the Hurricanes who didn’t run the 40 on Friday. After he ran the fastest time of any player at the Combine – 4.28 seconds – it really wasn’t necessary. Still, Van Dyke said he told his agent he was thinking about running again at UM’s Pro Day.
“He said, ‘Oh no, you’re not,’” Van Dyke recounted, laughing. “So I just went out and supported my teammates.”
Van Dyke said he has heard he’ll be drafted in the third round, and he attributes that largely to his 40 time at the Combine.
“”It helped me out a lot. A lot of guys had me at 4.42, 4.5 at the highest,” Van Dyke said. “When I busted 4.28 – it was like, `Wow, I didn’t know you were that fast.’ I had a bunch of scouts [jokingly] ask me if I wanted to race [them].”
Van Dyke said he feels he helped himself more Friday.
“One scout told me I improved my stock from the Combine,” he said. “I looked more fluid. I just wanted to improve on my drills – at the Combine I felt I was kind of sluggish.”
Franklin’s stock has been on the rise, with some mock drafts projecting him as a first-rounder.
“That would be a dream come true,” Franklin said. “I’d be able to pay my mom back for all the sacrifices she made for me.”
Regardless of where he’s drafted, he said, “I’m just happy I’m getting the opportunity to be drafted. Growing up in Toronto, Canada, I never thought I’d be in the position I am today.”
There’s been some debate about where Franklin will play in the NFL. Franklin said some teams see him as a guard, others a tackle. While he’s more comfortable at the former, where he played his first three seasons at Miami, Franklin said he has no preference.
Franklin, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in January, said he was pleased with how he ran at the Combine and it doesn’t appear to be a concern for teams. He said he will visit with several teams during the next month.