Cats try to impress scouts at Pro Day


UK men’s football players get timed on the forty-yard-dash at the Nutter Field House on Wednesday, March 10, 2010. Photo by Britney McIntosh

The last time Sam Maxwell suited up for UK, he returned an interception for a touchdown against Tennessee on Nov. 28. That play capped a breakout senior season for the career backup linebacker who exploded for 81 tackles and seven interceptions in 2009.

He was able to do so even though he played much of the year with a shoulder injury, and underwent surgery on a torn labrum in his left shoulder after the Tennessee game. He missed UK’s bowl game and has since been rehabbing the shoulder so he could work out for NFL teams.

At UK’s Pro Day on Wednesday, Maxwell finally suited up again. But this time, he was suiting up for Sam Maxwell. Scouts from about 15 NFL teams showed up to put UK’s seniors through drills, workouts and time them in the 40-yard dash. For a player like Maxwell, who has laid low since his injury, it was a chance to get back on the map.

“Not many people know about Sam Maxwell,” Maxwell said. “The only people who know are people who watch Kentucky football.”

Maxwell’s training suffered as he had to focus on recovering from his surgery, and he said he knows he’ll have to improve his 40-yard dash time to raise his stock. He turned in a time in the 4.9s.

Still, Maxwell feels he’ll be able to help an NFL team if he is drafted. He was being discussed as a surefire pick during the season, but much of the buzz around him cooled as he recovered from surgery. Now, he’s not sure if he’ll be drafted or if he’ll have the chance to sign somewhere as a free agent.

“I’m an all-around guy,” Maxwell said. “I’ve got the talent, I’ve got the character. Just give me the chance.”

Preparing for the NFL Draft and a potential career in pro football showed the departing seniors a different side of the game; something many other students who are closing in on graduation might be able to relate to. Maxwell said there’s a lot more stress around the game as he gets ready to work out for teams.

“It’s not just fun and games,” Maxwell said. “There’s a business side you’ve got to get used to. It’s the real world now.”

4th and inches

After a disappointing showing in the 40-yard dash at the combine, linebacker Micah Johnson improved his time at Pro Day. Johnson was clocked at just under 5.0 seconds at the combine last week, but ran in the high 4.7s or low 4.8s on Wednesday … Tailback Alfonso Smith had one of the better showings at Pro Day, running his 40-yard dash in the high 4.2s or low 4.3s. He said he’s hoping to show teams that despite a quiet senior campaign, he can still be an effective contributor and is willing to play special teams … Fullback John Conner had one of the best combines of any UK player, and limited his workouts at Pro Day to a few position drills. He said he’s expecting to be picked in one of the later rounds of the draft.