Magee determined to conquer NFL obstacles

Brandon Magee knows some pro football scouts are leery of his 5-foot-11 frame. He knows several websites are projecting him as a seventh-round NFL draft pick or an undrafted free agent. He knows the official time he ran in the 40 on Monday at the NFL Scouting Combine – 4.74 seconds — isn’t going to help his cause, even if the stop-watch time read 4.66.

But when you’re blessed with a well of positive energy – one that is exceeded only by your well of resolve – those are just low hurdles on the track to the finish line, building blocks for the chip that has taken up residence on Magee’s shoulder.

“It’s a really big chip,” Magee said, laughing. “It’s always been like that for me. I don’t know why people doubt me, but all you need is an opportunity to show what you got.”

Magee overcame his share of obstacles in his career as an Arizona State linebacker. He suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon at an Arizona State scrimmage in August 2011, forcing him to miss what should have been his senior season.

Last season, he averaged 9.4 tackles per game, second best in the Pac-12, plus 6 1/2 sacks and 12 1/2 tackles for a loss, despite missing a game with a concussion. In the Sun Devils’ 62-28 rout of Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, Magee suffered an injury when he dove to make a tackle and his elbow struck a helmet.

Magee didn’t get the brace off the elbow until two weeks before the combine, limiting what he could do leading up to the combine. He didn’t take part in the bench press in Indianapolis, and though he participated in everything else, he laughed when discussing his running form in the 40.

“I was basically running with one arm sticking straight out because of the elbow,” he said.

Magee does have other options. He has already signed a five-year deal with the Boston Red Sox, who agreed to let him pursue pro football first. As late as January, he said he would wait to see what happened at the combine and in the NFL Draft before making his decision – hedging his bets on how high he went in the draft. But despite the dire predictions of some scouts and an injury-affected performance in Indy, Magee said Monday that he is fully committed to football.

“I’m sticking with it to prove a point,” he said. “I’m a football player. You put me out there, I’m going to learn this game and I’m going to make plays.

“I’ll play special teams if that’s how I have to work my way in, but I’m going to be playing linebacker, too.”

Magee said he spoke with 30 of the NFL’s 32 teams at the combine, and are all were filled with praise for his play, his work ethic, his motor and his intelligence. He also said the Cardinals told him they would have him in for a workout, but he has no other private workouts scheduled yet.

For the next week or so, he will start lifting weights – something he hasn’t been able to do due to the injury – and prepare for ASU’s pro day on March 8. When draft day comes, he’ll pull up a chair, watch and wait like hundreds of players across the country.

“These scouts watch tape, and they know the game of football,” Magee said. “Somebody will see it. Somebody will see me. All it takes is that one team to pick me up and fit me into their scheme. After that, anything can happen.”

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