Milliner believes surgery won’t hurt draft stock

Dee Milliner wanted to wait until after the BCS Championship
game to fix his shoulder.

Now he’s waiting till after this week’s NFL scouting
combine.

The Alabama alum who is expected to be the first cornerback
taken in April’s draft said Sunday that he will have surgery March
12 to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He’s expected to
need about two months to fully recover and with the injury being no
secret, he doesn’t expect it to hurt his draft stock.

”I know I’ll be back to normal, making plays and that’s why I
wanted to come to the combine, just to do this and just to show
that I can move around and do stuff with my arm hurt now,”
Milliner said.

The defensive backs won’t work out in Indianapolis until Tuesday
after most coaches and general managers have already left town. And
unlike some of the other top prospects, Milliner said he plans to
do all the drills other than the bench press this week.

His reasoning is simple: Even at less than full strength, he
still feels he’s the best cornerback available.

The injury occurred Nov. 10 when Alabama lost its only game of
the season to Texas A&M. Milliner said he was injured as he
dove to make a play on the ball. He could have opted for surgery
then, but decided to play through the pain instead and wound up
helping lead the Crimson Tide to its third national title in four
years.

”I was hurting when I was playing, but you’ve got to fight
through it and keep playing,” Milliner said. ”So I just continued
to go out there and play.”

OTHER INJURIES: Though Milliner decided to work out this week,
injuries are keeping a handful of others off the field.

The biggest name to be out might be Southern California
quarterback Matt Barkley, who is waiting till his March Pro Day to
start throwing after injuring his shoulder in October. Another is
Duke quarterback Sean Renfree, who tore his right pectoral muscle
during the Blue Devils’ bowl game.

Renfree spent the next month in a sling, then worked on getting
his range of motion back and now is trying to strengthen the
shoulder. A return date is still unclear for Renfree, who NFL
Network draft analyst Mike Mayock called ”really good.”

”When I go back, I will start to run, be able to do some
weights,” he said. ”In the next month, I will just try to get
some strength back and then by able get to 100 percent and be able
to throw.”

Alabama running back Eddie Lacy also did not participate in
Sunday’s workouts. He has a hamstring injury.

TOP PERFORMERS: Texas receiver Marques Goodwin looked more like
a sprinter than an Olympic long jumper Sunday.

The 10th-place finisher in the long jump at last summer’s London
Olympics posted the fastest 40-yard dash time of the day. He was
clocked in 4.27 seconds, taking the early lead in the race to get a
contract offer from Adidas. West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin and
Texas A&M receiver Ryan Swope tied for second in 4.34.

That time also matched the fastest time posted by a running
back, Auburn’s Onterio McCalebb. Arkansas running back Knile Davis
was the next fastest at 4.37.

West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith helped his case by posting
a 4.50, the fastest at his position. Florida State’s E.J. Manuel
was second at 4.65. They were also one-two in the vertical jump
with Manuel barely beating out Smith 34 to 33 1/2.

Texas A&M’s Christine Michael had the best vertical jump of
the day, 43 inches, the best ever by a running back, according to
combine officials. The top three receivers – Virginia Tech’s Marcus
Davis, Tennessee’s Justin Hunter and Tennessee Tech’s Da’Rick
Rogers – couldn’t top that. They all came in at 39 1/2.

Missouri’s T.J. Moe posted the most reps among receivers in the
bench press (26).

TOUCHING DOWN: Notre Dame Cierre Wood had another year of
eligibility left at Notre Dame and isn’t expected to go in the
first round in April.

So why did the top rusher for the Fighting Irish decide to give
up his final season of eligibility?

”I just thought it was that time for me to go. Things weren’t
really going my way,” he said. ”I’m not saying that things are
going to go your way, but I felt like I was doing everything
possible to get the ball, but it wasn’t happening. So, with that
being said, I felt like it was time for me to move on to the next
level.

GETTING IT ON FILM: USA Football, the NFL’s youth football
development partner, spent the weekend filming interviews with some
of the league’s coaches as part of its Heads Up tackling
program.

The program is designed to help youth-league coaches and
commissions learn more about tackling fundamentals so they can
teach them to younger players. The hope is that it will reduce the
number of serious injuries in youth leagues, including
concussions.