INDIANAPOLIS--Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno (pictured) will be one of the featured running backs taking the field Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium to show his talent to NFL personnel. Moreno is one of several running backs who left school early and is expected to be picked early in April's draft, joining the likes of Ohio State's Chris Wells, Pittsburgh's LeSean McCoy and Donald Brown of Connecticut.
Moreno, who measured in at 5-10 ½ and 217 pounds, plans to participate in all the drills. But watching game tape is really the only way to appreciate Moreno's fearless running style and his ability to finish runs.
"I think it just comes from the love of the game," Moreno said, "enjoying the game and just the moments out there on the field."
But he admits he sometimes surprises himself.
"It's all instincts. When you look back you can't believe some of it," Moreno said.
Since finishing his career at Georgia, Moreno has been training under the supervision of former Olympian Michael Johnson in McKinney, Texas. Moreno is hoping to run a 4.4 or better in the 40-yard dash and show his speed and his quickness in the on-field work and cone drills.
Moreno credits his quick feet and explosiveness to his college running backs coach, Tony Ball, who put an emphasis on hitting the holes and foot placement. In two seasons at Georgia, Moreno totaled 32 touchdowns and 2,736 rushing yards.
It's no surprise when he lists some of his favorite NFL running backs.
"I really love the way Adrian Peterson runs," Moreno said. "I also like LaDainian Tomlinson. But my favorite is Walter Payton. Those are all great running backs and I just love their style of running and their work ethic."
A native of Belford, New Jersey, Moreno agonized over the decision to leave early for the NFL but it came down to financial reasons for his family.
"It was definitely tough," Moreno said. "The reason why I came to Georgia was that the coaches really made me feel at home, and the players. Leaving those coaches and the players was really a tough decision. It came down to the last day and down to the wire. I made the right decision for my family and for me."
GATOR LOOKING TO PROVE HIS WORTH
Florida tight end Cornelius Ingram is playing catch-up for NFL personnel in Indianapolis as he continues his comeback from a torn ACL in his knee during fall practice last year. The injury caused Ingram to miss his entire senior season.
Ingram, 6-4, 245, finished with 34 receptions for 508 yards and seven touchdowns in 2007. He is banking on those numbers and his workout yesterday to prove he should be one of the top tight ends selected in April.
"We had a motto at Florida that coach (Urban) Meyer told us before every
game. 'Don't worry about anyone else. Just do your job.' That's kind of what I'm focusing on," Ingram said. "I know there is a lot of great talent here. I can't do nothing but worry about taking care of my business."
As expected, Ingram spent hours with team doctors and trainers earlier in the week, all wanting a look at his knee. He knew heading in that was going to be the hot topic, and he was happy to oblige.
"It was something I definitely wanted because sometimes when players are really competitive they might not be 100 percent or might do or say anything to convince people that they are," Ingram said. "At one point in time I did that, but I'm definitely not doing it now. I feel great. I'm cleared."
So how many doctors had a look at the knee?
"I stopped counting," Ingram said. "Everybody did the same thing, pulling it to make sure it was stable. It wasn't that bad. I talked to NFL guys that have been through the process and they told me to make sure you're patient. I had in my mind what would happen and how long it would be. I wasn't mad, and it wasn't that bad."
TOP 10 40-YARD DASH TIMES AMONG OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
Lydon Murtha, Nebraska, Tackle 4.85
James Meredith, South Carolina, Guard 4.97
Xavier Fulton, Illinois, Tackle 4.98
William Beatty, Connecticut, Tackle 5.03
Joel Bell, Furman, Tackle 5.07
Jonathan Luigs, Arkansas, Center 5.07
Gerald Cadogan, Penn State, Tackle 5.08
Brandon Walker, Oklahoma, Guard 5.11
Jon Cooper, Oklahoma, Center 5.14
Jason Smith, Baylor, Tackle 5.14
5 QUESTIONS WITH JAGUARS QUARTERBACKS COACH MIKE SHULA
How was your experience as a player at the combine in 1987 different than the combine now?
SHULA: The media is on top of everything now so much more than it was back then. It's so positive for the kids, although sometimes there are some things you don't want to get out as a coaching staff but it's going to get out anyway. The amount of time spent is probably the same with interviews, doctors pulling and tugging on you, trying to find out every bit of information. These guys are so well rehearsed in their answers for interviews. It's very challenging. No one ever told me anything other than what my dad and brother told me.
Did you work out anywhere special leading up the draft?
SHULA: No, there was nothing like that, no preparation like that. I knew some of the questions that were going to be asked but now these kids know every question that is going to be asked. They all have their agents they have signed with or the quarterback gurus that know all the throws that are going to be made. That just helps them. You still try to get them out of their environment and out of their comfort level a little bit just to try and find out their personalities.
Who were some of the other quarterbacks that were in your class that were with you at the combine?
SHULA: Vinny Testaverde, Jim Harbaugh, Rich Gannon.
Did all the quarterbacks participate in the drills back then? There seems to be a trend now for quarterbacks to attend the combine for the medical testing and then wait to throw at their pro day.
SHULA: Yes, they all participated. Vinny was the one that didn't have to but he threw. It has kind of gone in cycles. Now we are getting more guys (participating). At one point about seven or eight years ago, hardly anybody was. Everyone was pulling out. The agents have told them that instead of being one of 21 quarterbacks throwing in a rotation, you're getting two throws and then the next 20 guys go, you can have the whole NFL at your place watching you throw every throw. You are selfishly getting attention on your own in your own environment, where guys usually throw better that way.
What was your 40-yard dash time?
SHULA: I ran a 411. Some people call it a 5.1 but I call it a 411.
FACING THE MEDIA
The NFL Scouting Combine is definitely the place where any questions about the 325 players are answered for NFL personnel, and the same can be said of the daily press conferences.
Penn State's Aaron Maybin took the podium inside the media room at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday and was pressed right away about his weight, why he left school early and what he could bring to a NFL team.
Maybin declared for the draft after starting only one season for Penn State as a redshirt sophomore, but his numbers in one season as a starter were impressive. Maybin finished with 12 sacks and 19 tackles for loss in 2008 after seeing action in a reserve role in 2007. He was satisfied with his draft evaluation so he decided to declare.
Much of the pre-combine talk centered around what position he would play at the next level. Teams playing a 3-4 defense picture an outside linebacker while he could be better suited at defensive end in a 4-3 scheme.
"I had some standup experience at Penn State," Maybin said. "There were a lot of coverages where they dropped me into the flats and into the seam routes. I have worked covering guys man to man before. I see it is as I am going into this thing as an athlete."
Maybin was asked about his weight since he played last year at 230 pounds, but he weighed in at 250 pounds on Friday.
"Most people wanted to see me put on weight," Maybin said. "I know they wanted me to get a little heavier so I went to work and put on 20 pounds.
THE LAST WORD
"He tries to hop in our workouts occasionally. I don't think the guy knows his age sometimes. He sometimes forgets the fact that he's not 20 years old and a young football player. He'll try to hop into a few of our drills and ends up almost getting trampled," Penn State linebacker Aaron Maybin on his college coach, Joe Paterno.