NFL Combine: Coprich in strong FCS contingent

(STATS) – Marshaun Coprich is afforded comfort by training in the city in which the NFL Scouting Combine will be held in two weeks.

But there's a sense of urgency as well. The former Illinois State running back has only been outside Lucas Oil Stadium.

“I'm comfortable in the city,” Coprich said, “but at the end of the day I have to go into that stadium and show all those teams what I'm capable of doing and showing them my speed and my talent.”

Coprich was among more than 330 players on the NFL's list of invitations for the combine announced Thursday. All 32 teams will take an up-close-and-personal look from Feb. 23-29, and the list includes a particularly strong contingent of 22 candidates from the FCS level, led by North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz and Eastern Kentucky outside linebacker Noah Spence.

Coprich, a first-team FCS All-American and the Missouri Valley Football Conference's offensive player of the year the past two seasons, is hoping to impress in the crowded field of hopefuls. More players are invited to the combine than the number of selections in the draft, to be held in Chicago from April 28-30.

The most important numbers at the combine will come from the series of measurable drills, such as the 40-yard dash, the bench press and the shuttle run, the medical tests and an intelligence test to measure the aptitude of players.

At Illinois State, Coprich had plenty of numbers that stood out, including 5,195 rushing yards and 60 touchdowns in 52 games. He also caught 33 passes over his final two seasons, which suggests he could fill a change-of-pace role at the next level considering he doesn't have ideal size for an NFL running back at 5-feet-8 1/2, 205 pounds.

Coprich is not afraid to mix it up between the tackles with his thick, compact frame, although his best work comes when he accelerates to the edge of a defense. At Sparta Training Academy in Indianapolis, where Coprich has trained in recent months, he says he's been clocked at 4.47 seconds in the 40.

The invitation to the Combine, he said, “means a lot. It shows that my hard work and my dedication to the game is being noticed. (The NFL has) been a dream for me since I was a kid.

“You've got to be focused from day to day and make sure that you're getting better, that you're not taking steps back.”

Coprich accepted a plea agreement with two years of probation after his arrest last spring in Normal, Illinois, for selling a small amount of marijuana to an undercover officer. It will be a topic with NFL teams as Coprich, like all the candidates, is dissected in so many ways at the combine.

Wentz, like Coprich a player coming out of the Missouri Valley Conference, has burst into the national spotlight and could be a top-10 overall selection. No FCS player has been a first-round selection since 2008, and Spence also is considered to be at that lofty level.


The FCS players headed to the combine are:

Quarterback: Wentz and Josh Woodrum of Liberty

Running back: Coprich

Tight end: Ben Braunecker of Harvard, Temmarick Hemingway of South Carolina State and Beau Sandland of Montana State

Offensive tackle: Joe Haeg of North Dakota State and Cole Toner of Harvard

Defensive end: James Cowser of Southern Utah

Defensive tackle: Javon Hargrave of South Carolina State and DeVaunte Sigler of Jacksonville State

Outside linebacker: Victor Ochi of Stony Brook and Spence

Cornerback: James Bradberry of Samford, Harlan Miller of Southeastern Louisiana, LeShaun Sims of Southern Utah and Ryan Smith of North Carolina Central

Safety: Deiondre' Hall of Northern Iowa, DeAndre Houston-Carson of William & Mary and Miles Killebrew of Southern Utah

Kicker: John Lunsford of Liberty

Punter: Lac Edwards of Sam Houston State

The combine is staggered into positional groups over four-day intervals, wrapping up with on-field workouts. This year's workout schedule is: Feb. 26 for running backs, offensive linemen, place-kickers and special teamers; Feb. 27 for quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends; Feb. 28 for defensive linemen and linebackers; Feb. 29 for defensive backs.