NATCHITOCHES - The fact that two hours Thursday morning was his last work in Turpin Stadium as a Northwestern State Demon was not lost on All-America tight end Justin Aldredge, as he and nine other seniors went through their paces for NFL teams during the Demons' annual Pro Day.
"I was real happy with how everything went today. It seems like my college career flew by, but this was a good close to it," said Aldredge, who was also a first-team Division I Academic All-American. "We had a lot of our guys out there today getting the opportunity to show what they could do, and a bunch of them got some good numbers in. I'm anxious to see what comes next."
Aldredge, projected as a fullback in the pros, and rising cornerback Jeremy Lane were the focal attractions for the NFL personnel running the drills and asking the questions Thursday morning. New Orleans Saints college scouting coordinator Jason Mitchell and scouting assistant Joe Vitt Jr. were among the NFL representatives tracking performances in the vertical jump, the broad jump, the 40-yard dash, the three-cone/L drill, the 20-yard shuttle run, the 60-yard shuttle run, the bench press and position specific drills.
Lane, whose press man coverage ability has some analysts projecting he could be a surprising fourth-round choice in the April 26-28 NFL Draft, and Aldredge both increased their stock Thursday. Lane (5-11, 184) was best in four categories (including a 4.48 40-yard dash and a 42-inch vertical leap) and improved his marks in five tests (40, vertical jump, a 10-10 broad jump, a 4.14 20-yard shuttle, and 12 consecutive 225-pound bench presses) since a workout earlier this month at Louisiana-Lafayette.
"I think I did pretty well today. All my numbers improved," said Lane, a Tyler, Texas-John Tyler product. "I didn't do as well in the position drills as I did earlier in my last Pro Day at Lafayette. I think I was a little uptight today, but overall I felt good about it. I'm very blessed to be in the position I am in right now, and I'm trying to keep striving to make it in the league."
Photos, information and footage on Lane has been requested by ESPN and the NFL Network in anticipation of their live draft coverage.
"They (NFL personnel) told me I looked a little uptight, and to relax. They told me they liked me and I could have a good chance of being drafted," he said after emerging from conversations with every pro scout at the event.
Aldredge's father (Corwyn Jr.) and grandfather (Corwyn Sr.) each played in the NFL, with Tampa Bay and Cleveland, respectively, giving him a good perspective on what lies ahead. His size (5-11, 232) dictates a position change for the next level.
"I thought had a pretty good day," said Aldredge, who ran a 4.64 40, had a 36.5 inch vertical leap, led all participants with a 7.02 time in the three-cone/L-drill, and recorded 18 reps in the bench press and a 10-1 broad jump. "Obviously I won't be playing tight end any more, so they want to see me in a fullback/H-back role, working from depth and being able to move in space a little bit."
Other event leaders were receiver T.C. Henry in the 60-yard shuttle (11.87, with Aldredge just behind at 11.88) and defensive end Mike Adams, who had 34 reps in the bench press. Adams' father played for the Saints. Along with his 40 and vertical jump, Lane led in the broad jump and 20-yard shuttle, and did not participate in the 60-yard shuttle or three-cone/L drill.
Fullback Kyle Howard, defensive end Ricky Issac, deep snapper David Larsen, cornerback Cashas Pollard, linebacker/safety Lamont Simmons and receiver Reginald Turner were the other Demons going through Pro Day Thursday.