By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- On Thursday, March 10th former Clemson football players and NFL hopefuls were able to showcase their skills to NFL scouts at Clemson’s Pro Day. These players used Pro Day to stand out even more to the scouts present after performing well at the NFL Combine in February or prove themselves after not performing as well as they would have wanted at the combine.
The possible No. 1 Draft pick, Clemson’s own Da’Quan Bowers was not present at this particular Pro Day for he will be having his own private Pro Day where he will perform position drills for the scouts on April 1st.
TCI was able to catch up with four of the former Tigers and NFL hopefuls after they finished their workouts and talked to them about not only how they felt about their performance at both Pro Day and the Combine but also where they thought they would fall in the Draft in April.
Clemson running back Jamie Harper shocked Clemson fans when he decided to declare for the 2011 NFL Draft after the Tigers bowl loss against South Florida in January. However when we spoke with Harper he insisted that he was still confident that his decision to forgo his senior season was the right one for him.
When asked what he would do if the NFL Lockout did occur, Harper said, “If the Lockout happens, I’ll go back to school and finish my degree. I have 27 hours left before I can get my degree in Communication Studies.”
Harper explained that the difference between performing at the Combine and at Pro Day is the atmosphere. “You’re surrounded by your guys at Pro Day; it’s like being at home so it definitely made me feel more comfortable. You’re in your element when you’re performing here it’s like you’re with your family. At the combine though you have so many scouts and so many people working out around you that it gets a little crazy.”
We also had a chance to speak with Chris Hairston, one of the top rated offensive linemen in this year’s draft. Hairston who performed well at the NFL Combine, especially in the bench press as he lifted 225 pounds 33 times, agreed with Harper that working out for the scouts at Clemson had a whole different feel to it than working out at the Combine.
“I feel like I did pretty well today,” Hairston said. “I did what I knew I could and felt comfortable doing it. Now it’s just a waiting game for me, waiting on teams to call me and ask me to work out for them again.”
Hairston said he has heard from several teams however the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills have been very interested in him and have met with him a few times. Hairston’s only hope is that the Draft would hurry up so he could get to camp and start training with his new team. “I don’t want to lose a day,” Hairston said. “I know that the Lockout is being talked about however I know both sides are doing all that they can to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
When asked about where he would possibly end up in the draft, Hairston said “In the best scenario, I would end up going in the beginning of the second round, however in the worst case scenario I’d end up going in the sixth, so I could end up anywhere.”
Standout safety DeAndre McDaniel who decided against going in the draft last year in order to finish up his degree is confident that he has done everything he could to show the scouts what kind of a talent he is. Although McDaniel did not record his best 40 time at the NFL Combine, he hopes that the scouts will look at his impressive career as a whole instead of solely how he performed at the Combine.
“I feel like I performed well at the Combine except for my 40, which is something that you have to train for,” McDaniel said. “So today I wanted to improve my time on the 40 which I did so hopefully the scouts took that into account. “
McDaniel, who believes that he will end up going either in the late first round or early second, has spoken with most NFL teams at least twice. However McDaniel does not have a team that sticks out for speaking to him most regularly.
Clemson’s own Jarvis Jenkins was also present at Pro Day and was happy to be home in Clemson. Jenkins, out of local D.W. Daniel High School felt like he performed much better at Pro Day than at the Combine because of the familiar atmosphere of Clemson University.
“This is my environment, I feel more comfortable here at Clemson than I did at the Combine so I think that definitely showed in my workouts. I know I performed much better today than I did at the Combine, I was completely drained out at the Combine so I definitely improved.” Jenkins said.
Next for Jenkins are a few private workouts with fellow Clemson teammates Byron Maxwell, Marcus Gilchrist and Da’Quan Bowers when he returns to Clemson.
When asked about where he believes he’ll land Jenkins said “Well some teams have me as a late first round pick however others say early third so I feel like it will be anywhere between first and third round.”
When asked which teams had shown interest in him so far Jenkins named the Patriots and a few others however he believes that the Patriots are very interested.
“The Patriots told me that they like my size,” Jenkins said. “The majority of their defensive linemen are smaller than me so they felt that I would fit their scheme.”
Overall, none of the players spoke to today were disappointed in their performance which can hopefully only mean one thing, a successful NFL Draft day for these former Tigers.