PSU pro day gives prospects last chance to impress
Shuttle runs. Forty-yard dashes. Broad jumps.
After running through pro day Monday at Penn State before about
20 NFL scouts, defensive tackle Jordan Hill is finally done with
the kinds of drills and agility tests required for most draft
”How many times have you ever seen me jump in a game,” Hill
asked rhetorically with a chuckle to reporters after his
Hill and linebacker Gerald Hodges are probably the Nittany
Lions’ two best draft prospects. The seniors helped guide a tough
defense that helped Penn State finish 8-4 in coach Bill O’Brien’s
For known commodities like Hill, who was invited to NFL combine,
Monday presented a chance to improve on particular skills. Hill
said he decreased his 40-yard dash time to 4.97 seconds. And he
went 111 inches in the broad jump, seven better than in
Indianapolis at the combine.
The difference? More rest, and less stress than in hectic
He doesn’t mind the agility tests. It’s just that there’s more
pressure when dozens of scouts, executives and media are breaking
down your every move. And he’s doing all of this, while also
finishing up his degree requirements.
When asked about the end of the process, Hill said ”he was more
relieved than anything else. Just because I get to do the stuff
(now) that I’ve been doing my whole life.”
Hill has been mentioned as a possible third- or fourth-round
pick. Hodges said he’s hoping to go in the second or third.
Hodges said his main goal on Monday was to ”just come out here
and be a little more sharper on the drills … I just wanted to get
out there and look a little fresher coming into the day.”
The athletic Hodges said he was measured for a 35.1-inch
vertical jump on Monday. He’s had interviews, he said, with
Detroit, Oakland, Baltimore, Minnesota and Tampa Bay, among other
Hodges is hoping his ability to learn the tweaked defensive
system under O’Brien will help show NFL scouts he can pick up new
”I’m not nervous any more. I feel that all the pressure is off
my shoulders,” Hodges said. ”I’m waiting for the day that I can
suit up in an NFL uniform.”
Hodges combined with fellow senior Michael Mauti to form one of
the best outside linebacker duos in the country. But Mauti missed
the emotional 24-21 win in the season finale over Wisconsin after
tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the third
injury to a knee in his otherwise impressive Penn State career.
Considered a second- or even late first-round pick at one point,
the latest injury could concern teams. ”His medical exams are
going to be crucial to his draft stock,” according to an analysis
Mauti underwent surgery that was performed by Steelers
orthopedic surgeon James Bradley. He’s still on the recovery trail,
and didn’t take part in Monday’s workout. But he did meet with
about five NFL scouts.
”It really is the biggest job interview as a football player,”
Mauti said. ”That’s not an exaggeration.”
Doctors say his recovery is ahead of schedule. He said he was
confident he would be ready for NFL training camp this summer.
Either way, Mauti’s leadership qualities remain unquestioned. The
fiery, hard-nosed player is considered perhaps one of the best
leaders to ever come out of Penn State.
Quarterback Matt McGloin was Mauti’s roommate during their
freshman year and one of the leaders on offense as a senior. The
rags-to-riches story of the former walk-on from Scranton is now
well-known in Pennsylvania after McGloin set several passing
records in his only season under O’Brien, the former offensive
coordinator of the Patriots.
McGloin wasn’t invited to the combine, but did play in the Texas
vs. The Nation all-star game last month. Hill, Hodges, Mauti and
center Matt Stankewitch were the four Nittany Lions who took part
in the combine.
”For guys that didn’t get to the combine, this was a great
opportunity for them,” Mauti said. ”You can tell those guys are
training hard. I’m proud of them.”
McGloin said he’s concentrated the last few months on getting
quicker, losing a little weight and working on footwork and
”I showed I had the arm strength capable of playing at the next
level. I thought my footwork looked good, but it’s just the way I
felt,” McGloin said after his workout. ”It only takes one team to
fall in love with you.”
Follow Genaro Armas at http://twitter.com/GArmasAP