By Zac Ellis
John Russell's Photo Gallery
NASHVILLE -- The cheering grew noticeably louder at the midway point of Vanderbilt's Pro Day on Tuesday, when running back Ralph Webb took his turn on the bench press.
Webb, the Commodores' all-time leading rusher, turned in a whopping 27 reps at 225 pounds, sparking hoots and howls from his surrounding teammates. Amid the ensuing high-fives, at least one Vanderbilt player wasn't surprised.
"I knew I was going to kill the bench," Webb said. "I've always been pretty strong, one of the strongest guys on the team. I figured I'd get about 25-27 reps."
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Webb's performance was just one piece of Pro Day, when 18 former Commodores worked out for a host of NFL scouts at the Vanderbilt Multipurpose Facility. In all, 29 NFL teams ventured to Nashville to assess the pro prospects of several Vanderbilt standouts.
Like many of his teammates, Webb hopes to forge his own NFL career. The Gainesville, Fla. product finished his collegiate career as a four-year starter and the Commodores' career rushing leader with 4,173 yards. That number places his sixth all-time in SEC history.
SEC Network Highlights - Interviews with Coach Mason, Oren Burks and Ralph Webb
At Pro Day, Webb showed out in front of NFL scouts. He leaped for a 36-inch vertical jump and 10' 2'' broad jump, then clocked a fast 4.48 40-yard dash. Webb then showed flashes of pass-catching out of the backfield, the very versatility he hopes will pique the interests of NFL teams.
"It's just coming out and showing that I can run, I'm fast and I can catch the ball out the backfield," Webb said. "I've got great tape. I know I can run the ball. They just want to see where I can move it around and be versatile. I think I came out here and did that today."
Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason said Webb has the tools to succeed at the next level.
"Ralph Webb is going to be a steal for somebody," Mason said. "All he needs is an opportunity, and he's going to get an opportunity. Ralph came out here and did exactly what we've wanted to see. Ralph is always one of those guys where you look at him and you try to put him in a box. But I always say this about Vanderbilt men: they're limitless."
Now Webb hopes his Pro Day performance serves as the next chapter in his road to an NFL career. He now plans to return to Gainesville and train in the weeks leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, which takes place April 26-28 in Arlington, Texas. For the moment, the bright lights of Vanderbilt's Pro Day didn't faze Webb.
"Pressure makes diamonds," Webb said. "I'm trying to be a diamond in the rough."
More notes from Vanderbilt's Pro Day:
• Several more Commodores showed off their speed. Receivers Trent Sherfield (4.39 unofficial) and Caleb Scott (4.40 unofficial) paced the Dores in the 40-yard dash. Cornerback Tre Herndon, meanwhile, clocked in at a 4.47 unofficial.
• Following a stellar performance at the NFL Combine, linebacker/safety Oren Burks enjoyed a limited showing at Vanderbilt's Pro Day. Burks participated in the long shuttle and position drills and said he plans to continue preparation for the NFL draft in the coming weeks.
"For me, it's been a long journey," Burks said. "It's just trying to make the most of every day. It's been a blessing."
• Former All-SEC running back Zac Stacy participated in Pro Day as he hopes to jump back into the NFL. A fifth-round draft pick by the St. Louis Rams in 2013, Stacy spent three seasons in the NFL before his football career ended due to injury. On Tuesday, the former Commodore star joined Webb and other Vanderbilt players in drills to show scouts that he hasn't lost his step.
"I retired [from football] out of emotion and frustration," Stacy said. "Now I kind of got my body right, got my ankle right and everything. Now I'm 100 percent and full and ready to go."
• Other notable attendees at Vanderbilt's Pro Day included Casey Hayward, former Vanderbilt and current Pro Bowl cornerback for the Los Angeles Chargers; Jon Robinson, general manager of the Tennessee Titans; SEC Network host Tony Barnhart; former Vanderbilt player and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers director of football operations Shelton Quarles.
Zac Ellis is the Writer and Digital Media Editor for Vanderbilt Athletics.