KNOXVILLE - Though Malik Jackson and Tauren Poole's college careers ended one game too soon, the former Tennessee players are trying to extend their football careers at the next level.
The tailback Poole and the defensive lineman Jackson were the two lone former Volunteers to compete in the NFL's scouting combine earlier this week in Indianapolis.
"It was a great experience," Jackson said Tuesday. "I got to see the guys that I'm going to go against as far as getting drafted. I went in there with a good mindset that I was going to do really good, and for the most part, I felt like I did."
Jackson, the Southern Cal transfer who was UT's third-leading tackler in 2011, hurt his quadriceps while running his 40-yard dash, but he completed every combine drill. After playing his senior season with the Vols at between 267 and 270 pounds, the 6-foot-5 Californian weighed in at 284 pounds. Most early projections have him as a middle-round pick.
Poole followed up a strong showing at the East-West Shrine Game last month by taking advantage of his opportunity in Indianapolis. Though Poole ran for more 1,000 yards as a junior, he finished with just 736 yards and averaged less than four yards per carry in a senior season in which the Vols' entire offense struggled.
"I would say it was a pretty tough experience mentally and physically," Poole said Wednesday. "Mentally by way of having interviews almost every night after working all day. Physically, the actual combine day was so long, so it was a draining process. But overall, I was glad I got the invite and glad I got to run and do workouts and talk to the teams that I did."
The 5-10, 205-pound Poole did 24 repetitions on the bench press, which was fourth among running backs at the combine. His 4.54-second 40 time was 12th among running backs, and he also cracked the top 10 in the broad jump and 20-yard shuttle run. Poole is projected to go in the later rounds.
"I was happy," he said. "I was prepared for it, and I knew I had to be because the week before that people were talking about this being the biggest interview of your life. That's how I took it. I was focused throughout the whole entire week, and hopefully I landed myself a job in this upcoming draft. We'll see."