March 20, 2014
On campus in Nashville - Fourteen senior standouts from Vanderbilt's 9-4 2013 squad will demonstrate their abilities at Pro Day activities Friday in front of scouts representing most of the 32 NFL teams.
The largest collection of pro scouts since 2008 are expected to watch workouts by four 2013 All-Southeastern Conference recipients - wide receiver Jordan Matthews, offensive tackle Wesley Johnson, cornerback Andre Hal and safety Kenny Ladler - and ten other starters from last year. In 2008, three Commodores eventually were selected in the NFL Draft.
Other former Commodores besides Matthews, Johnson, Hal and Ladler expected to get through Pro Day include linebackers Karl Butler and Chase Garnham, wide receiver Jonathan Krause, defensive end Walker May, defensive tackle Jared Morse, cornerback Steven Clarke, safety Javon Marshall, placekicker Carey Spear and running back Wesley Tate.
The 14th Commodore standout expected to participate is starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, who will throw to Matthews and Krause in position drills less than four months removed from knee surgery.
The former Commodores will perform an array of measurements and physical tests mirroring the recent NFL Scouting Combine. Besides official height and weight measurements, each participant gets tested in the 40-yard dash, standing broad jump, vertical jump, bench press repetitions of 225 pounds, three-cone drills, 60-yard shuttle and position-specific drills.
Matthews, Johnson and Hal ¬are expected to limit activities after participating in the NFL Combine last month in Indianapolis, performing in position drills. Ladler, who also attended the Combine, is expected to participate in more drills, including the 40-yard dash.
The activity, which is closed to the public, starts in the football weight room. After official measurements, jump testing and the bench press, Pro Day moves into the on-campus Indoor Practice Facility for all running tests and position drills.
Each year, the contingent of NFL personnel attending Vanderbilt Pro Day depends on the number of potential pro players. With several of the former Commodores owning current draft-eligible grades, the number of scouts Friday should rival 2008 when more than 25 NFL teams were represented at Pro Day. That year, three former Commodores were drafted - offensive linemen Chris Williams (1st round), receiver Earl Bennett (3rd round) and linebacker Jonathan Goff (5th round).
The participants are part of one of the most accomplished classes in Vanderbilt football lore. In the last three seasons, they helped produce gridiron history on campus, playing in three straight postseason games and posting back-to-back, 9-win seasons for the first time ever in the program. Their 24 total victories from 2011-13 also ranks as the most Commodore wins in a three-year span since 1910-12.
Individually, several of the seniors rank among the finest in modern team history. Matthews broke many team records, including establishing new SEC standards with 262 career catches, 3,759 career receiving yards, 112 receptions in a season. Johnson starting in a 51 consecutive games is the most ever by a Commodore. Hal's 18 defensed passes from last year set a new team single-season record. Spear's 20 field goals from 2012 is the highest season total ever. Ladler tied a team record with five forced fumbles in 2013. Carta-Samuels' 68.7 completion percentage last year ranks as the highest ever by a Commodore with at least 100 pass attempts.