By PAT EATON-ROBB, Associated Press
STORRS, Conn. (AP) _ Scouts and coaches from 29 NFL teams showed up at the University of Connecticut Wednesday for the school’s annual pro day workouts in advance of next month’s draft.
Fourteen Huskies participated in drills such as the 40-yard dash, the vertical jump and the bench press. But many of those watching were keyed in on four players who impressed at last month’s NFL combine in Indianapolis.
Defensive end Trevardo Williams, linebacker Sio Moore and cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz and Blidi Wreh-Wilson are all expected to go in the first few rounds.
Wreh-Wilson was the only one of the four to run a 40-yard dash Wednesday, completing it in a hand-timed 4.34 seconds, much better than the 4.58 he ran last month.
“I really wanted to put a stamp on it,” Wreh-Wilson said. “Show them how fast I really am, show them how athletic I really am, so there’s no question marks.”
Williams ran the 40 in 4.57 seconds in Indianapolis, the best time of any defensive lineman at the combine. But at 6-foot-2, 245 pounds, he’s projected as a linebacker at the next level and did position drills on Wednesday at that spot, despite being hampered by an injured right ankle.
He said it was nerve racking to look up and see people such as New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick watching him.
“I’m like, `Oh my God, put up your best effort Trevardo, come on,”’ he said.
The workouts also gave the scouts a chance to see some Huskies who were not invited to Indianapolis. Defensive tackle Ryan Wirth, wide receiver and return specialist Nick Williams, and tight end Ryan Griffin all put up some impressive numbers.
Wirth, who bench-pressed 225 pounds 33 times, had a vertical leap of 331/2 inches and ran a 4.88 hand-timed 40, said he’s just hoping one team will see him as a good fit.
“That’s out of my control, that’s up to one of the 32 teams,” he said. “I know if I end up somewhere, they will get 100 percent of me.”
Moore ran a 4.65 40-yard dash and did 29 bench press repetitions in Indianapolis. He also ranked near the top at his position in the vertical jump, broad jump and several other drills.
Gratz did more bench press repetitions, 22, than any other cornerback at the combine. But he and Moore did nothing but position drills Wednesday.
Moore said that after the combine and playing in two all-star games, he thinks teams know he can play as well as any other linebacker in the country. His numbers compare favorably to players such as Manti Te’o, who ran 4.82 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine in Indianapolis and 4.69 at Notre Dame’s pro day.
“I can’t be confident depending on them,” Moore said. “I’m confident depending on me, because of what I do. I knew when I stepped on the field that no matter what, I’m going to be one of the best guys on the field. It’s not about, well he went (to school) here and he went here.”
Connecticut has had 11 players drafted over the last four years, and 13 were on NFL rosters last season, including defensive backs Tyvon Branch, Darius Butler, and Robert McClain.
“Cornerback U,” Wreh-Wilson said. “Every year for the past five or six years, there’s been a corner.”
UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said all the former Huskies approached the pro day as the biggest job interview of their lives and came in prepared. He said that reflected well on the school and his staff.
“Hopefully it illustrates that we are working at football here at a fairly high level,” he said. “We hope that people in football … regard UConn as a place where they are pretty serious and pretty committed to doing this thing and doing it the right way.”
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)