14 Syracuse players work out for NFL scouts

Chandler Jones wore a big smile on his face, thinking about a

friendly bet he’d already made with brother Arthur about being

selected high in the NFL draft. Rob Long was beaming, too, but for

a much different reason.

The two former Syracuse standouts were among 14 former Orange

players who worked out for NFL scouts on Thursday at Manley Field

House, and there were plenty of eyes on all of them. Scouts from 31

teams – 37 people in all – showed up. That’s up from 24 teams a

year ago, a good sign for Orange coach Doug Marrone, whose third

season at the helm ended with a five-game losing streak and no bowl

appearance.

”It was a very, very good day, one of the biggest days we’ve

had in a long time,” said Will Hicks, the Orange’s assistant

athletic director of athletic performance. ”It was very, very

smooth. All of our kids performed well. All the coaches and scouts

were very complimentary of how the program was run, how the kids

did the drills the right way and were very attentive, looked like

they’d been there before.”

Also competing for attention were: tailback Antwon Bailey,

wideout Van Chew, kick returner and receiver Dorian Graham,

cornerback Kevyn Scott, safeties Phillip Thomas and Olando Fisher,

offensive guard Andrew Tiller, fullback Tombe Kose, offensive

tackle Michael Hay, and tight end Nick Provo. Back from the 2010

team that won the Pinstripe Bowl were tight end Jose Cruz and

receiver Aaron Weaver.

Jones, Provo, Tiller and Thomas attended the NFL Combine two

weeks ago, and Hicks said they improved some numbers in certain

drills. Though Provo attended the combine, he underwent shoulder

surgery in December and wasn’t cleared by doctors to perform any of

the physical tests or receiving drills.

Jones impressed despite having lost 11 pounds due to a bout of

stomach flu.

”Chandler did exceptional in the position work today,” Hicks

said. ”Some of those kids who didn’t go to the combine made some

noise.”

Jones, a standout defensive end for the Orange who opted to

forgo his final year of collegiate eligibility to enter the draft,

said teams also were looking at him as an outside linebacker. He’s

being projected as a second-round pick but said he’s been hearing

maybe late first round. His brother was a fifth-round pick by

Baltimore in 2010.

”I think I did really good, a lot better than the combine,”

Jones said. ”At the combine, I found myself stumbling a lot. I was

a little nervous. I feel comfortable out here. There were a lot of

guys here. I just wanted to put on a show. It’s the last piece of

the puzzle.”

The workouts were closed to the media.

Afterward, Long, sporting a full head of hair, said he was

cancer-free. A year ago, when he took part in pro day, Long had

just overcome a cancerous brain tumor and his head was bald from

chemotherapy treatments.

”It’s just good to see Rob healthy enough to punt,” Hicks

said. ”He’s busting a couple of lights out there right now. We’re

just proud of the fact that Rob’s still here and able to do

this.”

Long lost the end of his senior season to the brain tumor. After

missing Syracuse’s victory in the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl, he

underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments instead of

preparing for the 2011 combine. This time, he’s optimistic he’ll

get a shot in some camp.

”I think things went really well today. It was a good day for

me to take in, obviously, a much different performance than a year

ago,” Long said. ”I’m much healthier. I punted really well. I hit

the ceiling every time. I think there’s some interest. Hopefully, I

opened a few eyes. There were times I wasn’t sure I’d be back here

again.

Now, he has a second chance.

”Getting into the NFL is not easy,” Long said. ”I think if I

get to a camp I can win a job. It’s where I want to be.”