BY AARON BRENNER | firstname.lastname@example.org
AUBURN, Ala. – Now the snubs get their shot.
Linebacker Daren Bates, wide receiver Emory Blake and offensive lineman John Sullen combined for 148 career appearances, including 98 starts, in their four-year Auburn careers.
They’ll be in the spotlight one last time on an Auburn field Tuesday morning, in the biggest job interviews of their lives at Auburn’s Pro Day at the athletic complex’s indoor facility.
They’ve each earned some mention on NFL Draft web site projections of having a chance to be selected by a team in late April.
They did not take part in the NFL Network-televised Scouting Combine in late February, when defensive end Corey Lemonier, tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen and tailback Onterio McCalebb each gave people something to talk about one way or another.
But Bates, Blake and Sullen will regain home-field advantage in attempting to entice NFL scouts. Weigh-ins begin at 10:30 a.m. CT, followed by bench press, vertical test, broad jump, 40-yard-dash, agility and positional drills.
The trio that traveled to Indianapolis last week is also expected to take part in Pro Day. In all, 14 Auburn products (10 who were rostered in 2012) will be in attendance.
Bates led Auburn in tackles his junior and senior seasons at weak-side linebacker, but he’s planning to switch back to his natural position of safety for NFL scouts.
“It’s been hard. It’s like selling – you have to persuade them I’ve done this before,” Bates said Jan. 19 after the Raycom College Football All-Star Classic game in Montgomery. “I’m going to keep on grinding and getting to it.”
Blake finished his career with 128 receptions for 2,022 yards and 16 touchdowns – all marks ranking fifth in school history. His eight 100-yard receiving games are tied for third.
Sullen, an Auburn High School product, was the most experienced member of Auburn’s young offensive line last year. Like Bates and Blake, Sullen was named to preseason all-SEC watch lists, but Auburn scuffled to a 3-9 season.
Now it’s about applying individual skills to succeeding on Sundays.
“It comes with feet, hands, reflexes,” Sullen said Jan. 19, “a whole plethora of things. I feel like I’m a fast learner, and I would help a team in any way they needed me to.”
Lemonier ranked among the defensive line leaders in the 40, jumping drills and bench press in Indianapolis. Lutzenkirchen looks to improve upon clocked runs and measurements from the Scouting Combine, as his recovery from hip surgery continues.
McCalebb officially recorded a 4.34-second 40-yard-dash, though his unofficial time of 4.21 (which would have shattered the Combine record) set off a social media firestorm.
Other 2012 seniors taking part in Pro Day are cornerback T’Sharvan Bell, wide receivers DeAngelo Benton and Travante Stallworth and linebacker Jonathan Evans. Four former Auburn players from previous seasons – kicker Chandler Brooks, offensive lineman A.J. Greene, and receivers Philip Pierre-Louis and Nate Taylor – are also on the entry list.