Penn State's Devon Still is regarded as one of the best defensive tackles in next month's NFL Draft. Or the best, as he told reporters at last month's Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
His left big toe begged to differ.
Or did until Wednesday, anyway.
Then the 6-5, 300-pound Still ripped off a 4.95 in the 40 at the Nittany Lions' Pro Day in Holuba Hall. That is a significant improvement over his 5.03 clocking at the Combine, when he was still feeling the effects of turf toe, an injury he suffered in practice shortly before PSU lost to Houston in the Ticket City Bowl.
I think this was a big deal, he said, just because I don't think I put forth my best performance at the Combine. I just wanted to come out here and compete.
He's still not fully recovered from the injury -- It's annoying, he said -- but he's coming along. He is seen by most analysts as a likely first-round draft pick, though his is one of the deepest positions in the draft, featuring such other top prospects as LSU's Michael Brockers, Michigan State's Jerel Worthy, Memphis' Dontari Poe, Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox, Connecticut's Kendall Reyes and Clemson's Brandon Thompson.
Still claims not to be overly concerned by what ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. or the NFL Network's Mike Mayock say. He is just relieved to be on the road to recovery.
His injury forced him to miss the Senior Bowl, and kept him from practicing his 40-yard dash starts until the week before the Combine. Nor could he do any positional drills until the Combine itself. He did interview with 22 teams there.
He told them all the same thing: Just that I was a game-changer. I was able to go into every game and have an impact. Whether I was making tackles or not, I was always looking into the backfield. So that's something I try to get across to them a lot.
He made his point just as forcibly with his showing Wednesday.
I expected it to be real nerve-wracking, he said of the workout. Not to say it wasn't nerve-wracking, but when you go in there expecting it to be worse than it is, it turns out not to be that bad.
Wide receiver Derek Moye improved his time in the 40 from 4.51 at the Combine to 4.41 Wednesday. Not bad, especially considering his mindset heading into Pro Day.
I hadn't really planned on running it, he said. When I got in there I just felt the urge to run.
In general he had hoped to build on a strong showing at the Combine, and felt he did so. While he is still a tad slight at 6-4, 209 -- and while he hasn't added any weight during his workouts at IMG in Bradenton, Fla. -- there are few questions about the rest of his game.
This whole process is all about speed, he said. I think the key for me was to try to get more explosive and maintain my speed.
Linebacker Nate Stupar, who turned heads with his performance at the Combine, continued to do so Wednesday. He was clocked at 4.55 in the 40, after running a 4.78 in Indianapolis.
Otherwise he chose to stand by his Combine clockings -- a 6.84 in the three-cone drill, an 11.64 in the 60-yard shuttle and a 4.28 in the 20-yard shuttle -- times that ranked No. 1, No. 4 and No. 7 among the outside linebackers gathered there.
Now, he said, he is just waiting for calls, visits. Waiting for April 26 (and the Draft).
It's not all he is looking forward to, either. He is getting married July 8.
Can't wait, he said.
Defensive end Jack Crawford also stuck with his Combine workout, in which he ran a 4.85 40 and was measured at 33 inches in the vertical jump.
I was happy where I was at, at the Combine, he said. What you do on tape is going to dictate what happens.
Cornerback Chaz Powell improved his 4.5 clocking in the 40 at the Combine to somewhere in the 4.4s Wednesday, he said, and added that pro teams are considering him at any number of positions.
They're saying corner, safety, wherever they need me, Powell said. Returns, special teams -- I told them I'll do whatever.
The next level, it's tough to make. Only the strong survive. I feel if I just keep working hard, stay the course and stay motivated -- and the big thing, stay out of trouble -- anything can happen with the next level.
He said scouts were also surprised to learn he had played wide receiver in college.
They say, 'Receivers that play DB now can't catch,' he said. I was like, 'That's not me.'
Safety Drew Astorino, while unsure of his 40 time, did 11 reps in the 225-pound bench press and was measured at 33.5 inches in the vertical jump and 9-10 in the broad jump.
I think they were kind of where I thought, he said. I was hoping I'd do a little better, but they're OK.
Tight end Andrew Szczerba was also uncertain of his 40 time, but felt he made a good impression.
My main goal was to come out here and show teams I could be athletic -- that I could run and catch the ball, he said. And I think I did that very well. I'm happy with how I performed today.
You tell yourself not to be nervous, but it's hard not to when you've been waiting for a day like this your whole life.