Offensive lineman Brian Winters of Hudson drew the largest turnout at a Kent State pro day Wednesday, with representatives of 24 NFL teams and one CFL team watching drills at the KSU Fieldhouse.
Last year only five NFL teams were represented.
Among the crowd were offensive line coaches from four teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens. The Browns were also among those who sent scouts.
The attention was obviously flattering to Winters, only the third KSU player ever invited to the NFL Combine.
"The combine opened my eyes, it was a big stage," Winters said. "When I walked up on the stage for the bench, there were a lot of people there. That woke me up for it.
"There were a lot of offensive line coaches here, which is rare, I guess. It was awesome. I’m really blessed that they took time out of their day to come watch me. I’m really happy with that. I feel like I had a great day. It’s a great honor."
At the NFL Scouting Combine last month in Indianapolis, Winters stopped after nine reps in the bench press because of a pectoral strain. He did not lift Wednesday, saying he will wait perhaps a month at the advice of his agent Joel Segal and doctor. He said when he does bench press, the session will be taped for all interested teams.
Asked about the combine disappointment, Winters said, "It was a letdown. I was really looking forward to it, especially coming from the school I came from. I was excited to turn heads and put up good numbers. I came here, it was the same crowd, I felt comfortable with all the guys on my team and had a good day."
Winters, 6-3 1/2 and 315 pounds, was timed in the short shuttle in an unofficial 4.7 seconds, hit 31 1/2 inches in the vertical jump and 8-11 in the broad jump.
"I feel it went well," Winters said. "At the combine I didn’t get the results I wanted because I couldn’t participate. It was just a little more motivation for me to work harder. I feel I prepared well and did well."
Winters played left tackle for the Golden Flashes, but is projected as a guard in the NFL because of his short arms. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock lists him as the fifth-best guard prospect in the April 25-27 draft and Pro Football Weekly's "2013 Draft Guide" projects him as a second- or third-round pick.
During position drills, Winters also worked at center.
"I’m fine with that," he said. "It was new to me, obviously. But it felt comfortable and I felt good doing it. I could have a future in that, we’ll see."
The Flashes' left guard, Josh Kline of Mason, Ohio, benefitted from the attention on Winters and worked out with him in position drills. Kline tied for the most reps in the 225-pound bench press with 25.
Winters and Kline will work out Friday for the Tennessee Titans in Kent. Winters said he also will fly to Tennessee for an April 1 visit.
"That will be a fun time," Winters said of the trip. "It’s definitely awesome, putting all the hard work in and getting a little reward out of it."
Like Winters, Kline felt he had a good day.
"I felt real loose today," Kline said. "I tried not to worry about my times or anything, just tried to do my best and I think I did that very well."
Asked about his chances to be drafted, Kline said, "It is my goal. It should be everyone’s goal to go to the next level. We’ll see what happens come April. Hopefully I’ll get drafted, but if not I’ll work hard to try to get on a team as a free agent." While at Mason (Ohio) High School, Kline won a state wrestling title.
Tying Kline on the bench was long snapper Ryan Hidalgo, who suffered a career-ending injury in the 2011 opener.
Wide receiver Eric Adeyemi turned in the Flashes' top time in the 40-yard dash with 4.48 seconds and had the longest broad jump (10-1). Linebacker Luke Batton of Nordonia High School ran the best three-cone drill (6.88 seconds), while running back Larry Dawson of North High School recorded highs in the short shuttle (4.2 seconds), long shuttle (11.2) and vertical jump (34.5).
Kicker Freddy Cortez connected on field goals from 55 yards as the scouts watched.
Others participating from KSU were quarterback Spencer Keith, defensive lineman Dana Brown, cornerback Norman Wolfe Jr. of Buchtel, defensive lineman C.J. Malauula, defensive back Sid Saulter, safety Leon Green and receiver Matt Hurdle.
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