A handful of Georgia Tech football players came away encouraged from their results on Friday’s Pro Day.
Wide receiver Ricky Jeune, considered to have the best chance to be drafted later this spring, did nothing to hurt his chances of being selected. Defensive end Antonio Simmons likely helped his chances immensely. Others, like offensive linemen Shamire Devine, defensive backs Lawrence and Lance Austin and defensive end KeShun Freeman may have helped their odds.
They were among 14 players who participated in the annual event, which allows players from the school to work out for an array of NFL scouts at the same time and under the same conditions.
“Certainly, they worked hard,” Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “It’s something every kid from the time they start playing football dreams about. It’s great for them to have an opportunity to come out and get tested and show off all the hard work they’ve put in.”
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Jeune, who is considered a late-round draft pick, had a good workout. He ran the 40 in 4.5 seconds and caught every pass thrown his way.
“They all said I did a great job,” Jeune said. It feels good to come out and show how hard I’ve been working in the off-season and I think I did pretty good.”
Jeune said he wasn’t nervous about the workout. “I’m just excited to come out and show the scouts how I’ve been working and I think it paid off.”
The most pleasant surprise was Simmons, a 6-foot-3, 246-pound defensive lineman, who ran the 40 in 4.45. Simmons has added 15 pounds and dropped five percent of his body fat since the season ended in December.
“I just know I was moving,” Simmons said. “It was my first time running the 40 (since training began). I’ve just been focused on starts and techniques. I knew if my 10-yard split was good, my 40 was going to be good.”
Simmons was asked by scouts to workout next week in Jacksonville, his hometown.
Devine didn’t run particularly fast or jump particularly high – not much is expected in those categories when you’re 6-7 and weigh 380 pounds – but he appeared mobile enough to warrant a further look by the scouts.
“They said I did good,” Devine said. “I felt like I could have done better. I’ll train. That’s all I can do … train and finish school.”
The Austin twins, who attended Lamar County High School, matched each other with 20 reps on the bench press. Each tested well in the 40 and the various running drills. The brothers must overcome their size limitations – both are 5-10, about 190 pounds – which is considered small for the NFL.
“I feel like it’s going to be like that the rest of my life,” Lance Austin said. “I’ve got no problem going out and competing. It wasn’t nothing new.”
Lawrence Austin said, “I think I tested pretty good. I’m just going to continue training and looking for an opportunity. I’ll take the opportunity and see where it goes.”
Freeman, who grew up in LaGrange, started for four seasons at defensive end. But Simmons is only 6-2, 250 pounds, may not be big enough to play end at the professional level. He could be asked to move to either linebacker or fullback at the next level.
“I’m open to wherever they want me to work,” Freeman said. “Any way to get my foot in the door, I’m willing to do it.”