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March 5, 2013

Pro Day notes: Onterio McCalebb runs fast, Lemonier explains 2012 struggles, ex-NFL QB Jeff Blake slings it around to son Emory

AUBURN FOOTBALL

AUBURN, Ala. – Onterio McCalebb probably could have gotten away with relying on his blazing NFL Scouting Combine time of 4.34 seconds in the 40-yard-dash.

However, perhaps inspired by the brief buzz set off by the unofficial time of 4.21, McCalebb felt compelled to prove to scouts he could do it again at Auburn’s Pro Day on Tuesday at Auburn’s athletic complex.

While the 23 NFL scouts in attendance kept their stopwatches to themselves, Auburn recorded McCalebb with a 4.29 time, as McCalebb continued his strong spring in hopes of earning a late-round selection in next month’s NFL Draft.

The former Tigers tailback, one of 14 Auburn products participating Tuesday (including ten from the 2012 roster), remembered what it was like in Indianapolis to brush with history.

“The guy put the camera in my face, and he said, ‘4.21’. I asked, would that be the record? And he said, yeah,” McCalebb recalled. “I barely could breathe. My mouth was dry and everything.”

Now comes the task of proving to NFL evaluators McCalebb (5-foot-10, 168 pounds) can offer more than just his fleet feet. He’s been working out as a punt returner and kick returner, and was able to bench press a 225-pound bar ten times – fairly impressive considering his lithe frame.

“It is about size, but once I get to the next level, I’ll have time to put weight on,” McCalebb said. “It’s all about the heart. I played in the SEC for four years, I missed two games as a freshman and played every single game after that. That right there can show you I have toughness.”

McCalebb had a vertical jump of 37 inches, just a half-inch off the pace set by former receiver Nate Taylor.

Linebacker/safety Daren Bates was clocked unofficially at 4.53 in the 40-yard-dash, while receiver Emory Blake logged a 4.61. Tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, about four to six weeks away from a full recovery from hip surgery, was timed at 4.96 seconds.

AUBURN FOOTBALL

Kickin’ it with Corey: Corey Lemonier, a defensive end in college who is considering switching to outside linebacker if he’s drafted into a 3-4 system, didn’t participate in most measurement drills, after an impressive combine performance. His vertical leap was 34 inches.

Lemonier ranked among the defensive line leaders in bench press, the 40-yard-dash and shuttle drills.

“I was expecting better – he’s a pretty athletic guy, and he has a lot of talent,” fellow Auburn linebacker Jonathan Evans said. “He’s a lot different (than his body was in December). He’s moving a lot better, his hips have gotten a lot better. He’s a good football player.”

Lemonier worked out in linebacker drills next to Evans, stumbling a few times in agility drills but overall was content with his output.

“They saw me doing linebacker drills at the combine,” Lemonier said, “and they were impressed because I’ve never done any linebacker drills or played linebacker in my life.”

Lemonier has been engaging in mixed martial arts lately to help his training. He is expected to go in the second round, and isn’t worried about a lackluster 2012 stretch run hurting his draft stock, saying “every single day” he’s asked about the 3-9 season.

“They ask me basically what happened that year, and I told them coming into the season, we had a dark cloud over our heads with the shooting and players getting arrested,” Lemonier said. “We didn’t have the talent to match up with teams in the SEC. It was nothing (about) character – our motivation was still there. But it was just a lack of talent.”

AUBURN FOOTBALL

Lutz lovin’ it: Lutzenkirchen is still just four months off hip surgery, but he’s pleased with his progress and sounded confident with his draft stock based on his trip to Indianapolis.

“I felt good, I thought I competed well, caught all the balls, did everything I could,” Lutzenkirchen said. “I know I’m never going to be a blazer in the 40, but I think game speed and film speed are a lot different than your 40 speed.”

Roll call: About a dozen current Auburn football players stopped by to watch their elders included quarterbacks Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace, tailback Tre Mason, and defensive linemen Dee Ford, Nosa Eguae and Gabe Wright.

Head coach Gus Malzahn was flanked by assistants Rodney Garner and Melvin Smith.

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