What had been a week-long eye-opening experience for a pair of former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football players became a chance for them to open a few NFL scouts' eyes Sunday.
After a week of going through mental aptitude tests by coaching staffs, general managers/executives and medical personnel from all 32 NFL teams, All-Southern Conference defensive linemen Derrick Lott and Davis Tull both tested well physically against competition from an exclusive group of other draft-eligible college players at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis.
Lott competed in every physical test, but Tull did not run in the 40-yard dash or do any of the other running tests because of a pulled hamstring he suffered seven days ago. Tull, who worked out with the linebackers group because he is projected to play outside linebacker in the pros, will run those events at UTC's pro day next Monday at Scrappy Moore Field.
"Not getting to run was frustrating, because I know my times would've been up there near the top," Tull said. "The injury wasn't bad, but I just didn't think it was ready to test yet. Everybody wants to compete at the combine because that's the biggest stage, so I was pretty disappointed about that part.
"But I know if I come out and run at pro day like I have been during workouts, I'll be fine. I was really happy with the numbers I put up in everything else, though, and with how I did during the team interviews and mental tests. I think I proved my football IQ is pretty good, and I believe I helped myself overall."
Tull had the best vertical jump of any linebacker, and his 42.5-inch leap tied for second best for any of the 300-plus athletes at the combine. It also tied for the best vertical jump by a defensive lineman/linebacker since 2006.
Tull had the second-best broad jump (11 feet) among linebackers and completed 26 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press, which tied two others players for fifth best among linebackers.
"I hate that he didn't get to run because he would've killed it," said UTC defensive line coach Marcus West, who along with receivers coach Will Healy attended Sunday's competition. "But he did prove that he's very explosive and strong. He earned a lot of respect, and now our pro day will be really big for him as far as getting to show his speed. To do what he did with a nagging hamstring, that's pretty impressive."
Lott, who measured 6-foot-4, 314 pounds, completed 30 reps in the bench press, which tied for seventh best among defensive linemen, ran a 4.99 in the 40, had a 26.5-inch vertical jump and broad-jumped 8 feet, 8 inches. He was also in the top 10 in the 3-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle.
"He's such a freak," West said. "He was one of the biggest guys there all week, and he ran 4.9. That's just unreal. I think he really helped himself at the combine."
Lott said he added seven pounds before the combine just to prove to pro scouts that he can move well and play at a heavier weight than he did in college.
"I think that helped them to see me run well at a heavier weight and know I can still be versatile," Lott said. "Overall I think the day went pretty good. I didn't take anything lightly, because this was a job interview.
"Since Davis didn't get to run, he was helping me out before and after drills. He was coaching me, giving me tips and encouragement and just that extra boost to help. It was great having a teammate there and especially one who's already like a coach about the game and working out."
Lott added that he will not run or lift at UTC's pro day but will compete in position drills. Tull will participate in every drill at pro day, along with former Mocs tight end Faysal Shafaat and running back Keon Williams.
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.
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