CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Former Miami safety Ray-Ray Armstrong walked onto the Hurricanes practice field Thursday for the first time since being dismissed from the team in July.
“It’s not weird at all being back,” said Armstrong, who was let go after several interactions with boosters jeopardized his NCAA eligibility. “This is where I played at.
“I still have a lot of friends here. We have a tight bond. I feel like it’s still home.”
Armstrong was among 17 players who worked out before scouting personnel from 30 NFL teams and two CFL teams at The U’s Pro Timing Day. The Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins were the only NFL teams not represented.
Running back Mike James and cornerback Brandon McGee — the only two ‘Canes who attended the pre-draft NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis — were among the 12 Miami seniors hoping to get noticed on a picture-perfect 70-degree, cloudless afternoon.
Before hitting the field, participants underwent physical testing for height, weight, vertical jump, broad jump and 225-pound rep test. The field workouts included the 40-yard dash, 20- and 60-yard shuttle runs, and position drills.
Armstrong, whose plan to play NAIA after leaving Miami never materialized, was among the non-seniors trying to impress.
One NFL official present said trying to make it in the NFL after not playing in more than a year would be difficult for Armstrong, once a four-star recruit.
“That’s the whole goal — to get to the NFL and perform well,” said Armstrong, who earned his degree from UM in December. “My career at Miami could have ended a lot better.
“I could have handled myself different, but it wasn’t so bad — I had a good time when I was here.”
Armstrong’s one-time secondary mate, safety Vaughn Telemaque, also worked out before NFL officials including New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland.
A fifth-year senior last season, Telemaque was a four-year starter until suffering a left knee injury. On Tuesday, he recorded the highest vertical jump (36 inches).
Receiver and punt returner Thearon Collier was back at Miami after being banished from the team before the 2010 season for violating team rules. Collier transferred to Southern California, but left before playing for the Trojans.
“It’s been a tough journey for me,” Collier said. “Growing up a kid in Miami, the University of Miami was the team I always wanted to play for. I hate that everything went south the way it turned out.
“I made a turnaround in my life and set out to be a positive guy. I had the opportunity to be on the field again, and it’s a blessing to be out here competing again.”
Former Miami QB Jacory Harris said his primary reason for attending Pro Day was to throw to former teammates, such as James and Collier. Currently a member of the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos, Harris admitted he had an ulterior motive.
“In the back of my mind, I wanted to impress the scouts,” Harris said. “Ultimately, the NFL is where I want to be.”
At the end of the nearly two-hour event, punter Dalton Botts performed before scouts from the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers. Earlier, Botts punted for the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs reps.
“I heard some negative things about pro days for kickers that nobody sticks around,” Botts said. “I was hoping a few people stick around.”