Woodson hopes strong performance at Pro Day will quiet critics

By Eric Lindsey

Andre Woodson put his hand on the football, took one peek to his right at wide receiver Keenan Burton and then snapped the pigskin. The former UK quarterback took a quick, three-step drop, locked onto Burton and fired a bullet to his 6-foot-2 wide out.

It was a scene UK fans have become accustomed to watching over the past two years, only this time the duo was putting on a show for 24 NFL teams.

Woodson and Burton were two of 10 departing UK seniors who worked out for NFL scouts yesterday at UK’s Pro Day inside the Nutter Field House. The former UK football stars ran sprints and drills for scouts in hopes of improving their draft status for the upcoming NFL Draft on April 26-27 in New York City.

Burton, wide receiver Steve Johnson, tight end Jacob Tamme and linebacker Wesley Woodyard — all of whom are expected be locks in the NFL Draft — elected not to participate in the individual sprints yesterday after participating at the NFL Combine last weekend. Woodson ran all of the individual drills after not traveling to Indianapolis last week for the Combine because of a pulled hamstring.

While Woodson participated yesterday morning in the 40-yard dash — which he ran in a modest 4.8 seconds — the highlight was a 25-minute throwing session between Woodson, Burton, Johnson and Tamme.

Woodson, whose draft status has fallen from a potential first-round pick to a second- or third-round selection, was extremely sharp yesterday, continually hitting his receivers in stride while showcasing his arm strength with his uncanny ability to throw the deep ball.

“I think I made a good statement with the way I threw the ball, and I think a lot people noticed that,” Woodson said. “All my balls were really accurate. I did a great job of getting out there and putting some pretty good power (on my passes).”

Woodson passed for 3,709 yards and tossed a Southeastern Conference record 40 touchdown passes during his senior season, but he has been highly scrutinized of late for a slow release.

Scouts have pointed to a hitch in Woodson’s release since a disappointing performance in the Senior Bowl, but Woodson looked smooth yesterday.

“Hearing your name get bashed day in and day out for no reason is tough, but you’ve just got to stay hungry,” Woodson said. “I’m hungry, and I’m ready to get out there and prove people wrong who are doubting me.”

Head coach Rich Brooks was on hand to watch the workouts and said the criticism Woodson and the other seniors face is all part of the process.

“Andre has a two-year library of film that if anybody wants to put it on, they can see this guy played as well as anybody in the country,” Brooks said. “There’s no question Andre will be a starting quarterback in the NFL, and whoever doesn’t get him is going to miss out, in my opinion.”

Burton, Woodson’s primary target over the past two seasons, is one of five former UK players that are all but locks to be chosen in the NFL Draft. Several other players like center Eric Scott, defensive lineman Dominic Lewis and running back Rafael Little, who had knee surgery Monday, are all making a push toward getting drafted.

Several underclassmen worked out for the scouts prior to the seniors, including speedy tailbacks, freshman Derrick Locke and sophomore Alfonso Smith. Locke ran a 4.21 40-yard dash, and Smith was not far behind with a 4.24.