18 Tar Heels work out at pro day
Posted March 26, 2013
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Eighteen current and former Tar Heels auditioned for more than 40 NFL scouts and personnel at North Carolina’s Pro Day on Tuesday morning at Navy Fields.
Fifteen members of the 2012 UNC football team worked out on a cold, windy morning – running back Gio Bernard, offensive guard Jonathan Cooper, linebacker Kevin Reddick, offensive tackle Brennan Williams, defensive tackle Sylvester Williams, kicker Casey Barth, offensive guard Travis Bond, wide receiver Jhay Boyd, linebacker Dion Guy, wide receiver Erik Highsmith, defensive back Pete Mangum, fullback Kenny Owens, fullback Devon Ramsay, defensive back Gene Robinson and long snapper Parker Thomas.
Former Tar Heels Quan Sturdivant, Brooks Foster and Curtis Byrd were also on hand to participate.
As expected, the big names on the board – Cooper, Bernard, Reddick and Sylvester Williams – did not go through the majority of the early morning’s measurement testing. The exceptions were Bernard participating in the bench press (19 reps at 225 pounds) and Reddick in the vertical jump (30 ½”).
Boyd, who also runs track for UNC, turned in an absurd list of results, ranging from a 4.46 40-yard dash to an 11-foot broad jump. The Gastonia, N.C. native also posted 41 ½” vertical jump, which may not have been completely accurate. According to a school official, 41 1/2” represents the measuring device’s ceiling.
Other notable measurements include Highsmith’s 4.6 40, Byrd’s 28 reps at 225 and Brennan Williams’ 28 ½” vertical jump.
The festivities started at approximately 9:30am under strength and conditioning coach Lou Hernandez’s direction inside before the players and scouts made their way to Navy Fields at 10:30am for roughly 90 minutes worth of drills.
After standard drills such as the 3-cone, side shuttle and “60” – a suicide-type drill totaling 60 yards – the scouts split the players into groups for position-specific drills. NFL personnel, including Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis and Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley, spent significant time watching UNC’s offensive linemen work through a variety of speed, agility and power drills.
Sylvester Williams, the lone defensive lineman present, worked with the linebackers on several footwork drills, while Reddick took reps with the defensive backs during certain coverage drills.
Former UNC quarterback Cam Sexton was on hand to throw balls to the running backs and wide receivers in passing drills.
UNC head coach Larry Fedora and various members of his coaching staff were on hand to watch the drills, as well as current players such as Bryn Renner, Eric Ebron, Jabari Price, Tim Jackson and Jabari Price. Former assistant coach Ken Browning and suspended quarterback Marquise Williams were also present.
Fedora’s message to NFL personnel has focused on the character of his players.
“What I’m going to tell them is that these guys are going to help any team be better,” he said. “They’re going to be good quality citizens on their team. They’re not going to have to worry about them off the field and they’re going to help them win.”
Fedora also offered some insight in saying that Cooper will probably be selected earliest in the NFL draft, with Bernard, Reddick and Sylvester Williams in the second group.
Even so, Fedora acknowledges that he knows as much as his players do at this point: “It’s hard for me to tell where these guys are going to go.”
The players don’t know much about their likely destinations and most don’t even pay attention to the speculation swirling around leading up to the draft on Apr. 25.
“You probably know more than me,” Reddick told one reporter. “I promise. Trust me, they don’t tell us anything.”
Bernard prefers to not even look at mock drafts and the sort.
“I’ve been the type of guy to really stay away from that type of stuff,” Bernard said, who will begin private workouts on Apr. 1. “I love the game of football, so I really try to stay away from it. Obviously, family and others will say, ‘Oh, this team likes you,’ but it’s a point of blocking it, in one ear and out the other. So, for the most part, I just try to enjoy the process.”
One potential concern for Bernard, who measured 5-8 ½ and 204 pounds, is whether or not he can be an every-down back at the next level.
Fedora quickly dismissed that notion on Tuesday, saying, “I assure you he can do it.”
More importantly, Fedora indicated that he has not been asked by any NFL personnel about Bernard’s potential to play every down.
Various NFL scouts attended UNC’s football practice on Monday afternoon to learn how practices are run under the new regime, according to Fedora.