March 13, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The University of Alabama held its annual pro day Wednesday with 12 draft-eligible Crimson Tide players participating and all 32 NFL teams in attendance.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban was impressed with the turnout of NFL scouts and the way his players represented themselves on and off the football field. He also had a chance to reflect on what an event like this says about a program that has won three of the last four national championships.
"It says a lot about the total program, all the people in it and the great team we have here - whether it's in personal development or academic success, developing players and being able to recruit character quality people who will represent the program and develop in the program," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said.
"A lot of people contribute to that success. Our coaching staff does a wonderful job. We have a great supporting staff here in the department, and the university community has been very cooperative in helping us develop players off the field as well as helping us recruit them."
Draft-eligible Crimson Tide athletes that participated were: D.J. Fluker, Kelly Johnson, Nico Johnson, Barrett Jones, Robert Lester, Jeremy Shelley, Damion Square, Carson Tinker, Chance Warmack, Ranzell Watkins, Jesse Williams and Michael Williams.
Dee Milliner, Quinton Dial and Eddie Lacy also weighed in and were measured, but did not work out for scouts on Wednesday due to injuries. Jones and Square were able to bench press and turned in good numbers with 27 and 23 reps, respectively.
Players started the day in the weight room where their weight, height, standing broad jump, vertical jump and bench press were checked. After finishing in the weight room they moved to the indoor football facility where they completed the 40-yard dash, agility testing and position specific position drills.
Jesse Williams, who played both defensive end and nose tackle at the Capstone, registered a sub-5.0 second 40-yard dash that was clocked between 4.78-4.90. Lester, who started at safety for three years for the Crimson Tide, turned in solid numbers with a 34.5-inch vertical and a 10-foot, 1-inch broad jump.
The NFL Draft will be held April 25-27 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
For more information on Alabama Football, follow the Tide on Twitter @AlabamaFTBL and like the team on Facebook at AlabamaFTBL.
Head Coach Nick Saban
What does the number of draft picks say about Alabama:
"It says a lot about the total program, all the people in it and the great team we have here- whether it's in personal development or academic success, developing players and being able to recruit character quality people who will represent the program and develop in the program. A lot of people contribute to that [success]. Our coaching staff does a wonderful job. We have a great supporting staff here in the department. And the university community has been very cooperative in helping us develop players off the field as well as helping us recruit them."
Transitioning from SEC to the NFL:
"The fact that, and I may be off on my numbers here a little bit, but I read somewhere that 70 guys came out early for the draft this year and 40 of them came out of our league. That's an indication of the quality of players we have [in the SEC] and the quality of competition. The fact that we had six teams in the BCS Top Ten at the end of the season is another indication of the great programs we have and the great competition we have in our league, which certainly helps develop players. And we are extremely pleased and happy with the quality of players that we've had- not only how well they have done in the draft, but more importantly, how well they do with their career. Everybody's focused on where a guy gets drafted when really the most important thing is what kind of career you [the player] will have. What kind of consistency and performance do you have when you get an opportunity. That's what we try to stress with our players."
Mental preparation for this day:
"It goes right along with the way we try to get our players ready to compete- the focus you need to have, the mental toughness that you have to have. The ability to lock on to whatever the circumstance and the perseverance you have to have to be able to overcome little adversities that always pop up. Whether you're playing in Missouri and its pouring down rain and you get 40 minutes in the game in the locker room- whatever it is, you have to be able to respond to those things. A lot of time, we try to figure out how we can make it perfect for these guys. Well, most of the time it doesn't happen perfectly. To be able to have an expectation things may go wrong here and you have to focus and stay focus. Those circumstances really help those guys when it comes to things like this."
Motivation for returning players:
"All of our guys would like to have the opportunity someday to develop a career as a football player, which means can they play at the next level. I don't think that's a bad motivator as long as you keep the priority of being a good person, doing what you need to do to develop a career off the field by graduating from school and being motivated in developing a career as a football player. I don't think that's a bad thing. To see guys before you and know how hard they worked and the kind of success they have had individually and team success, which all contributes to guys getting opportunities, is a good thing."
On his thoughts on his performance at the pro day:
"I felt good. I don't really know what numbers I put up on the actual drills or anything, but I felt like I was in shape. I felt light. I weighed in pretty good, so I'm just happy about the results I had so far."
On what he is trying to show the scouts:
"I'm athletic and trying to show what I can bring to the table if anybody wants to draft me. I'm really excited to just get on a team and get started with football, but just to show what I can do and show what my strengths are."
On how he approached the pro day:
"Like a game. I got the tape on my wrists, and I got my mouthpiece, so any time I'm doing a workout, I'm taking it seriously. It's a job. It's been a job for me since I put on the pads when I was little. I'm having fun with it, and that's the main thing."
On whether he thinks he helped his draft stock:
"I'm really not paying attention to the stock thing so much as just trying to improve myself as a player. I didn't get a chance to do much at the combine, so I wanted to prove to myself that I could do the drills here, and that's what I did. I'm happy I did it."
On whether being at Alabama makes it easier to prepare for the pro day:
"You know how to handle and carry yourself in tight situations, so when all eyes and cameras are on you, you don't really feel so nervous. I think everybody feels the same way when I say we handle pressure really well here because we've been in so many tight situations, and that's a blessing and a good thing to have."
Today's Pro Day:
"It went well. I bench pressed today and didn't do too much of anything else. Next Pro Day I'll come out here and do everything else they need me to do. These guys are performing well. I'm just out here supporting my guys and watching some of the drills I have to do when I do my workouts. It was a good day."
Difference between this and fall drills:
"It's a little different. There's more agility and you focus on those things as you're working out. When you're practicing for football you have plays and it's mental, so it's a team things. Right now, you're working to be the best individual you can possibly be. You're selling yourself and that's what you've been doing the whole time. It's a little different."
How it felt:
"It felt good. It was my first time really running and I didn't have much time to prepare for something like this. Next Pro Day is April 2nd, so I'm going to come back and do pretty much everything over. That sports hernia kind of held me back a little bit and I felt it today, but I don't know how I ran. Personally, I think I can run better, but I feel I have a whole lot to improve on."
Will career production help in the draft:
"Who knows - the only thing I can do while I'm here is bust my butt and go out and make it obvious I'm a good player. I just want to come back on April 2nd and show I can improve because I ran a better 40 (time) than I did around this time last year as a junior going into a senior. Today, I don't think I ran that well. I think I did the drills well, but I'm a perfectionist. I want everything to be good. I'm going to come back and bust my butt."
What does it mean to get a chance in the NFL:
"Just to get an opportunity to play in the National Football League is something special. Not everybody gets to play in the National Football League so, to get that opportunity will be something special and I'll take advantage of it."
Do you feel the teams get a better view of you as a person out here:
"I feel more comfortable being here because I played here and we practiced out here every day. It is always good to come back here and show everyone what I got."
How does being in a program like Alabama help you prepare for days like this:
"It does. The way Coach Saban has the program set up with focus on discipline it helps us move on to the next level. "
On his health status:
"I'm getting better, just focusing on trying to get my hamstring right, so hopefully the next pro day we have I'll be ready to go."
On if it is frustrating not being able to work out:
"It's frustrating, but at the end of the day there's nothing you can do but rehab and get better for next time, so I'm still working on that."
On the feedback that he is getting from scouts, and where he might go in the draft:
"I don't know. Honestly I'm not too worried about the rounds. More than anything, I want to get to a team that appreciates me, that I'm a good fit for and get to the place that I'm supposed to be, and so that only takes one team to really fall in love with you and draft you. I've really enjoyed the meetings. I love talking football with these guys and just being able to talk to a lot of the great minds of football, so it's been a really cool experience getting to meet these people and getting to be a part of something as special as this process."
On if he wants to play center in the NFL:
"I'll play whatever position I'm asked to play, definitely. If you made me choose, I probably would choose center right now because, No. 1, I played it last year. I'm a little more comfortable there. No. 2, I'm kind of a control freak. I like to be in control. If we're watching TV together, I like to hold the remote. That's just the kind of guy I am, and I like making the calls. I like the preparation aspect of it, but that being said, wherever they think I'm the best fit for their team and can help them win, that's where I'll want to play."
On how the pro day went:
"It went good. I came out here and worked hard, and just gave it everything I had today, keeping up the intensity and trying to get better."
On how much he thinks of his draft status and stock:
"I don't really think about that. I just try to go out there and do my job, do everything I can. I can't control that."
On the differences between the pro day and normal football drills:
"I enjoy it. I enjoy coming out here and working, putting on a show for everybody. That's me, a high energy guy. Intensity baby. That's what I tell everybody. Match my intensity. That's how I feel about it."
On what it is like having Chance Warmack working out with him at the pro day:
"He's a good teammate. I always try to push him, try to get better. Any time we go at it, we always try to push each other."