BY AARON BRENNER | email@example.com
AUBURN, Ala. – Even if the production on the field dropped off, Corey Lemonier’s awe-inducing athleticism and tantalizing talent never went anywhere.
After measuring in at 6 feet, 3 3/4 inches tall and 255 pounds, Lemonier channeled the need for speed from his former teammate Onterio McCalebb. A day after Auburn’s ex-tailback unofficially broke the NFL Scouting Combine 40-yard-dash record, Lemonier turned in a timely 4.6 second run Monday, tied for third-best among defensive ends.
Lemonier also showed some explosion with a 33-inch vertical jump and 119-inch broad jump. On Sunday, Lemonier bench-pressed a 225-pound bar 27 times, tied for seventh at the position to prove his muscle.
In a couple of tweets, Lemonier sent upon his departure: “I had a great time here in Indianapolis. What a great experience” and “War eagle!! Thank you auburn for three great years!!”
Lemonier only had a half sack in the final eight games of his junior season, yet opted to enter the NFL Draft anyway as an underclassman. Draft experts have projected him anywhere from late in the first round to the third round.
Lemonier told reporters in Indianapolis he is looking to play elsewhere in some team’s front seven.
“I think I will be a 3-4 outside linebacker,” said Lemonier, according to Scout.com. “That’s a new position for me. I am raw, but I think that’s good because I will have no bad habits … you have to be able to play in space at linebacker, especially trying to chase down all those quarterbacks.”
McCalebb and tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen concluded their interview sessions and workouts earlier in the weekend. They are scheduled to participate in Auburn’s Pro Day on March 5, joined by wide receiver Emory Blake and offensive lineman John Sullen.
The NFL Draft is April 25-27 in New York City.
Michael O’Neal hadn’t yet seen tape of himself a day after his second start in an Auburn uniform, though he enjoyed one piece of AuburnTigers.com’s social media savvy.
“I haven’t lately, but I watched the (video) recap on the website,” said O’Neal, referring to a pre-packaged video by the university. “That was pretty neat.”
O’Neal’s been pretty neat himself. The Pacelli and Chattahoochee Valley CC product has won each of his first two starts with the Tigers – no other Auburn starter has factored into a decision – while logging a 1.54 ERA and walking one batter against eight strikeouts.
He’s not a power pitcher, but O’Neal knows his strengths, and he’s playing to them. O’Neal has found the strike zone or coaxed a swing on 67 percent of his deliveries.
“Just throwing strikes, getting guys down early in counts, and throwing deep in the game for our bullpen,” O’Neal said. “It feels good to know you fill the zone and let our defense work. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
O’Neal feels he’s got room for improvement with his offspeed pitches, though head coach John Pawlowski likes what he’s seen in each of O’Neal’s outings, each lasting into the sixth inning.
“That’s what we’re hoping,” Pawlowski said. “When he can run that ball down there in the bottom half of the zone with the sinker, he throws three pitches for strikes. He’s got a little deception going on, and a second quality start for him, he’s done a great job for us.”
Another of O’Neal’s stated goals is keeping things simple for his bullpen, but the relievers have carried more than their fair share of the load early in this young season. The new-look Auburn bullpen has an 0.95 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings of work.
“It’s fun to watch, isn’t it?” O’Neal said. “They’re throwing 89-92, blowing it by the hitters, throwing sick curveballs. They’re going to strike out a lot of guys.”
Auburn (6-1) returns to action Tuesday against Kennesaw State (4-3), with first pitch set for 4 p.m. ET at Plainsman Park.