That was based on handheld stopwatches, the tool of choice in the mid-1980s. In 1999, the NFL Scouting Combine began using electronic timing, which certified the pure speed of young runners.
For about a half hour, the world of Twitter (yes, the world) was abuzz with another former Auburn tailback. Onterio McCalebb first ran an unofficial 4.27 40, then followed it up with an unbelievable 4.21-second run, which would have eclipsed Chris Johnson’s record in the electronic timing era (4.24, in 2008) by three one-hundredths of a second.
However, the official results showed McCalebb was fast – just not freaky fast. McCalebb’s 4.34 time was tied for second among all Combine trackers, behind Texas wideout Marquise Goodwin and equaled by West Virginia athlete Tavon Austin.
Impressive, considering McCalebb was sidelined at last month’s Senior Bowl with a hamstring injury.
Before the official results were posted to NFL.com/combine, McCalebb was the No. 8 trending topic worldwide on Twitter. Johnson himself posted to his 816,000 followers, after he learned his record was safe:
Can’t lie that one scared me
— Chris Johnson (@ChrisJohnson28) February 24, 2013
Draft analysts from NFL Network and ESPN believe McCalebb could figure in as a late-round draft pick, particularly if he proved his quickness.
NFL Network has the video of McCalebb’s two runs here.