SDSU players prove themselves on Pro Day

by Ruben Meza

With the countdown to the NFL Draft drawing closer and closer, the amount of time potential players have to prove they’re NFL ready is almost near its end.

SDSU Pro Day was held on Wednesday afternoon and many fans were in attendance to watch their favorite former members of the San Diego State football team perform one last time. But the people most interested in the athletes were the 15 or so NFL scouts in attendance.

The SDSU players gathered to perform workouts and drills in front of scouts who represented teams such as the Steelers, Broncos, Jaguars, Saints, Patriots, Buccaneers, Ravens, Chargers and so on.

It allowed scouts to get a better idea of the players they watched a month ago at the NFL Combine, as well as discover a few new faces.

Former SDSU linebacker Miles Burris, who dealt with an upper-hamstring issue that kept him from running the 40-yard dash at the combine, finally got a chance to show his true potential with a body that he said is fully recovered.

“I felt good. I felt fresh and ready to go since I trained a long way coming into this,” Burris said. “I’m not sure what or how the times worked out, but hopefully I was pretty fast.”

An NFL scout, who asked to remain nameless, said he had Burris timed in at 4.68 seconds, a respectable 40-time for the linebacker recorded at 6-feet 2-inches, 236-pounds. Burris admitted he actually lost a few pounds to better prepare himself for Pro Day.

“I wasn’t so focused on bulking up, I was trying to trim up a little for today because there was a lot more running-specific type stuff,” Burris said. “I trimmed down a little more than expected, but it was all right. I moved pretty well today.”

Burris, who was awarded First-Team All-Mountain West defensive honors two years in a row, did five different defensive drills along with defensive lineman Jerome Long and other Aztecs. The linebacker was able to impress scouts with his body control, quick instincts and catching ability. He ended the workout with a surprising backflip that caught many of the scouts’ attention.

Despite ending his workout with a high note, Burris knows it’s still not over until his name is called at the draft podium.

“I’m just going to keep training and keep grinding,” Burris said. “I won’t have to worry about training for the 40 (yard dash) anymore, but more football-specific type things instead like staying in the weight room, keeping my cardiovascular endurance up and just getting back into football shape.”

While Burris set his mind on drawing attention to his quickness and speed, former SDSU quarterback Ryan Lindley got a chance to show off his arm one last time. Lindley, the MW all-time leader in career passing attempts, completions and yards, said he threw around 75 passes in a variety of plays and routes. Play-action rollouts, goal routes, post routes, deep throws and a variety of other throws were all asked of Lindley, and he was  on target with almost all of them.

Lindley overthrew the ball just twice in the shorter routes and five times in the deeper routes.

Despite a few dropped passes and a slight breeze, Lindley put on a clinic and connected with receivers at a high percentage while displaying his arm strength. The quarterback was pleased with his performance (saying he has become “lighter on his feet”) and believes he has a lot more to offer in the league.

“I’m going to go in and work, be a guy who’s a good team player and just get in where I fit in,” Lindley said. “You just got to find your niche and work with it.”

Lindley made his throws to UCLA wide receiver Rosario Nelson, John McGough from USD, Saalim Hakim (former Aztec Az Hakim’s younger brother) and Royce Pollard from Hawaii. Lindley credits his success to rooming with former SDSU wide receiver turned San Diego Charger, Vincent Brown.

“He’s helped me out a lot. From here on out I’m pretty sure we’ll be running routes a ton,” Lindley said. “We’re treating it like it’s the good old times and we’re having fun with it.”

Other notable players projected to be drafted include former Aztec running back Ronnie Hillman, who rushed for 3,243 yards and 36 rushing touchdowns during his two seasons at school, SDSU punter Brian Stahovich, who punted for more than 10,000 yards throughout his career and SDSU defensive back Larry Parker, who finished last season with seven interceptions, tying him for third in the nation.

With plenty of prospects proving their potential and raising their draft status’, there were many more scouts at hand than in previous years to witness it all. And according to already-an-Aztec-legend Lindley, SDSU Pro Day is only going to continue to prosper.

“I think we’re just going to continue to improve on that,” Lindley said. “It’s great to see that we can put wins with putting guys in the NFL, too. We’ve always had guys with losing seasons go into the league, but now we want to be a winning program and that’s what (SDSU is) going to do.”