Friday, January 16, 2009

ACC to have presence at NFL combine

North Carolina wide receiver Brandon Tate is among 35 ACC players, plus two more from ECU, scheduled to attend the NFL scouting combine Feb. 22-26 in Indianapolis.

Tate was among the NCAA leaders in total yardage and touchdowns when he suffered a right-knee injury during the team’s 29-24 win over Notre Dame on Oct. 11 in Chapel Hill.

The 6-1, 195-pound Burlington product underwent surgery on Oct. 13 and did not play afterward. Kevin Best of the UNC sports information department said this week that Tate has been doing light workouts during the past few weeks.

At the time of the injury, Tate was rated by some pro scouts as one of the top kick-return prospects in the senior class. A few mock drafts then had him listed as a low first- or high second-round pick.

Also headed to the combine are possible first-rounders Mike Hamlin (DB, Clemson), Andrew Gardner (OL, Georgia Tech), Eugene Monroe (OL, Virginia), Victor Harris (DB, Virginia Tech) and Wake Forest players Aaron Curry (LB) and Alphonso Smith (DB).

ECU will send Khalif Mitchell (DT) and Davon Drew (TE). It was just a year ago that Pirates running back Chris Johnson dazzled the combine scouts with his speed, cuts and pass catching to move into the first round and emerge as a Pro Bowl performer with the Tennessee Titans.

The ACC, in the 2008 Draft, had seven first-round picks, four second-rounders and 33 overall in the seven rounds. The league records for most first-rounders (12) and overall picks (51) occurred in 2005. Florida State, in 1997 and again in 2006, had four first-round selections.

Clemson, in 1983, had 10 players picked. But since the formation of the ACC in 1953, only one league player has been the overall No. 1 NFL choice (N.C. State defensive end Mario Williams by the Houston Texans in 2006). In 1962, Wolfpack quarterback Roman Gabriel was selected No. 1 by the AFL’s Oakland Raiders, but that was before the AFL and NFL merged.

Virginia Tech defender Bruce Smith (1985, Buffalo Bills) and quarterback Michael Vick (2001, Atlanta Falcons), Virginia running back Bill Dudley (1942, Pittsburgh Steelers) and Miami QB Vinny Testaverde (1997, Tampa Bay Bucs) were all No. 1 picks. But at the time of those selections, none of their schools were ACC members.

Following is the complete ACC, ECU list for the ‘09 combine:

Boston College: Kevin Akins (LB), Ron Brace (DT), Raji Busari (DT).

Clemson: Aaron Kelly (WR), Chris Clemons (DB), Dorell Scott (DT), Cullen Harper (QB), James Davis (RB), Mike Hamlin (DB).

ECU: Khalif Mitchell (DT), Davon Drew (TE).

Florida State: Graham Gano (K).

Georgia Tech: Andrew Gardner (OL), Michael Johnson (DE), Jahi Word-Daniels (DB), Darryl Richard (DT), Vance Walker (DT).

Maryland: Jamie Thomas (OL), Ed Williams (C), Kevin Barnes (DB), Moise Fokou (LB).

Miami: Bruce Johnson (CB).

UNC: Brooks Foster (WR), Garrett Reynolds (OL), Richard Quinn (TE), Brandon Tate (WR).

N.C. State: Andre Brown (RB), Anthony Hill (TE).

Virginia: Clint Sintim (LB), Eugene Monroe (OL), Ced Peerman (RB), John Phillips (TE).

Virginia Tech: Victor Harris (CB), David Martin (LB).

Wake Forest: Aaron Curry (LB), Alphonso Smith (DB), Stan Amoux (LB), Sam Swank (K), Chip Vaughn (DB).

Combine drills (Players are not required to participate in all categories)

• 40-yard dash

• Bench press

• Three cone (cutting ability) drill

• Broad jump

• Vertical leap

• 20-yard shuttle

• 60-yard shuttle

• Position specific drills

• Physical measurements

• NFL team interviews

• The Wonderlic (intelligence) Test

• Injury evaluation

-- Caulton Tudor, (Raleigh) News & Observer