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WVU's pro day not all about Geno

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - With 29 NFL teams sending scouts, coaches and other representatives to West Virginia University for Wednesday's pro day, it would be easy for Geno Smith to feel like the day was all about him.

After all, he was the reason ESPN and NFL Network crews were set up inside the Caperton Indoor Practice Facility capturing footage and breaking down his every move.

However, in the quarterback's eyes, pro day wasn't about him at all.

It was instead about Pat White, J.D. Woods, Jeff Braun and several other former Mountaineer players fighting to earn attention and, ideally, an NFL roster spot.

"I always said it was more for them than for me," Smith said. "Everyone is going to watch the tape and evaluate me and do their homework, but there's guys like Ryan Nehlen who didn't play as much, but tests as well as the best of them.

"To have a bunch of coaches and scouts out here to get a feel for those guys as well and see what they bring to the table is extremely promising for me, because I really appreciate what they did for me."

Jacksonville Jaguars coach Gus Bradley and Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin were in attendance and watched the proceedings from the field.

Bradley and other Jaguars representatives met with Smith following the workout for a meeting Smith said involved watching game film and getting to know him.

Smith said his meeting schedule isn't set in stone yet; he has a meeting with the Buffalo Bills March 22 and expects about a dozen more visits before the NFL draft, which starts on April 25.

"As of right now, I would expect between 10, 12, and maybe even more," Smith said. "They have to contact my agents and get dates set up, because I'm pretty sure they all will be calling soon."

The pro day consisted of two separate workouts: one with players from last season's team and another with players from previous years, both containing various combine exercises and other position-specific drills.

Smith participated in a passing workout, which consisted of throwing to former Mountaineer teammates Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Nehlen, Woods, Shawne Alston and Ryan Clarke as they ran routes ranging from 5 to 40 yards in front of scouts.

The combination of returning to Morgantown and having the opportunity to catch passes from Smith made the event an enjoyable one for Bailey.

"It was a lot of fun," he said. "Like I said, just being back in the building with those guys, catching balls, running routes [and] doing what we do - it was a good feeling."

Bailey and Austin, who participated in the passing workout, both have a private workout with the Carolina Panthers here today.

After his combine performance, Austin said he didn't feel like he had to prove his speed anymore, but instead wanted to reinforce his route-running ability to the scouts.

"As far as the speed part, I feel like I've already taken care of that," he said. "I just want to just show [scouts] a lot more routes I can do, because at the combine you don't really get a chance to do a lot of them."

Smith completed 62 of 65 passes during the workout, including one incompletion that ricocheted off the ceiling of the practice facility.

Nehlen impressed scouts with a 39-inch vertical leap and 4.53 40-yard dash, both of which were the day's best marks.

"I was a little nervous out there," he said. "I wouldn't say more nervous than a game, though, because catching balls, running routes, that's what I've done my whole life, so I enjoyed that part."

Braun, the former WVU offensive lineman, led all players in the 225-pound bench press with 29 reps, four more than Josh Francis. Josh Jenkins (22) and Alston (20) were the only other players to eclipse 20 reps.

Offensive lineman Joey Madsen participated in the vertical and broad jumps, but did not bench press or run the 40-yard dash.

Former quarterback White joined ex-Mountaineers Jarrett Brown, Alric Arnett, Wes Lyons, Eain Smith and other players during the second workout.

White only participated in throwing exercises but admitted he wouldn't rule out a potential opportunity at a position other than quarterback.

"I'm open to being a football player but my heart is at quarterback," he said. "I'll take any opportunity I can get right now. I just want to be back in the game."

White said he received an offer from the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League one month ago but wanted to gauge interest from NFL teams before making a decision.

Smith said working out with White and other former teammates proved to be an opportunity to inspire him while also giving them a second chance to prove their worth to the scouts.

"Just to have them here for support, first of all, I thank them for that," Smith said, "and then they're out there trying to put themselves in a good position, as well."

The only three NFL teams not in attendance Wednesday were the Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks.

 


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