Blue Cooper said Thursday felt like a game day, and he had the same feelings Wednesday night that he did on the eve of a big game. Such is the significance of a pro day -- often the last, best shot at attracting scouts for most FCS players.
"I went to bed kind of late last night and just kind of laid there," the former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wideout said. "It really did feel like a game. My mindset was, I'm about to go play a game."
The Mocs held their pro day Thursday afternoon, running at Finley Stadium and doing the bench press at the Wolford Strength and Conditioning Center. With an NFL scout watching, seven of last season's seniors participated in the workout.
Cooper, who was measured at 6-foot-2, 192 pounds, had as good a day as anyone. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds, had a vertical leap of 36 inches and was solid in the other exercises as well.
"I didn't exceed my expectations, but I still ran some pretty good times," said Cooper, who had 84 receptions for 824 yards last season and trained five days a week for two months leading up to Thursday.
Defensive end Josh Beard, last season's Southern Conference defensive player of the year after leading the nation with 12 sacks, also was mostly satisfied with his performance Thursday. The 6-1, 252-pound Beard, who took this semester off to train in Atlanta, ran a 4.87 40 and bench-pressed 225 pounds 24 times.
"I think the biggest thing is that I need to improve my 40 time," Beard said. "On everything else I think I did pretty good."
Linebacker Joseph Thornton, who put on about 20 pounds of muscle in his training, produced some decent numbers but struggled in the 40.
After being measured at 6-foot, 230 pounds, Thornton ran a 4.8 40, about three-tenths of a second slower than he wanted. His vertical leap was 36.5 inches, his broad jump was 10 feet, 1 inch, and he did 18 reps on the bench press.
The other former Mocs who participated Thursday were wideouts Justin Buckhalter and Clint Woods, defensive tackle B.J. Taylor and quarterback/wideout Jare Gault.
Craig Camay attended the pro day, but it's not designed for kickers. Camay, the SoCon kicker of the year, said he was heading to Las Vegas next week to work out for scouts.
While the former Mocs were running and lifting, nearly all of the current Mocs were watching and cheering them on at Finley and in the weight room. The turnout was far different than in previous years, when hardly any current players attended the pro day.
Donald trying DE
Chris Donald practiced at defensive end Wednesday for the first time this spring. The University of Tennessee transfer worked at linebacker during the Mocs' first three practices, but he's getting a look on the left end this week, Huesman said.
The redshirt sophomore bounced back and forth between linebacker and end during his time with the Volunteers. Huesman said Donald with practice at defensive end today and stay there for Saturday's scrimmage. After that, the coaches will decide where he can be most effective.
"He can rush the passer," Huesman said. "He's got some quicks about him. There's so much more to (playing end), but we've seen some flashes that look really good."