Tennessee hoping to start new draft streak this year

Tennessee defensive back Brian Randolph is interviewed by reporters during the NCAA college football team's spring practice Tuesday, March 29, 2016, the day before before Tennessee's pro day. (Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — One year after failing to have anyone drafted for the first time since 1963, Tennessee is attempting to start a new streak.

But there are no guarantees any Volunteers will hear their names called in this year’s draft.

The only Tennessee players to get invited to the combine were wide receiver Marquez North and defensive end/linebacker Curt Maggitt, whose draft stock is limited by a hip injury that caused him to miss the last 11 games of the 2015 season.

North said at Tennessee’s pro day event Wednesday that he’s now at “110 percent” after dealing with a variety of injuries the last two seasons. North bypassed his senior year to enter the draft despite catching just six passes for 58 yards in seven games last season.

North, who is 6-foot-2 } and 226 pounds, boosted his stock with an impressive performance at the combine. North ran an unofficial time of 4.42 seconds Wednesday in the 40-yard dash, improving upon his combine performance of 4.48.

His combination of size and speed makes North an intriguing prospect. Because of his struggles the last two seasons, North knew he needed to make an impression in his pre-draft workouts.

“That was real vital,” North said. “That’s why I wanted to do a couple of things twice, just to show I was healthy, moving well, no injuries at all.”

Maggitt did 22 repetitions of a 225-pound bench press and participated in position drills but didn’t do anything else Wednesday as he continues his recovery.

A Title IX lawsuit filed against Tennessee last month states that former Volunteers receiver Drae Bowles assisted a woman who said she was raped by two other players, and that Maggitt later punched him in the mouth. Maggitt’s lawyer, Jeff Hagood, issued a statement last month denying Maggitt ever punched Bowles.

Maggitt, who was regarded as a team leader during his college career, said some teams have asked him about the lawsuit.

“I’m not worried about that impacting my stock,” Maggitt said. “People who know me, know my character and know what I stand for. That’s not a big worry to me at all.”

Among the notable performances at Tennessee’s pro day, defensive tackle Owen Williams did 42 repetitions on the bench press while safety Brian Randolph had 31 repetitions on the bench press and also ran the 40 in 4.4 seconds.

Randolph, who made 47 career starts, said he was eager to show his speed. Randolph said he’d heard some people say he runs a 4.7 40 and called that “nonsense.”

“I probably could have backpedaled 4.7,” Randolph quipped.

Although Tennessee didn’t have any players drafted last year, defensive back Justin Coleman signed with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent and ended up playing 10 games and making two starts for the New England Patriots. Randolph hopes he can benefit from Coleman’s success.

“Hopefully he opened their eyes for me,” Randolph said. “I don’t think they’re going to let another athlete from here fall through the cracks like he did.”

Chattanooga quarterback Jacob Huesman also was in Knoxville on Wednesday after running the 40 in 4.52 seconds at Chattanooga’s pro day on Tuesday. Huesman threw to Tennessee’s receivers and participated in the defensive back drills.

“I’ve always had scouts ask if I’d consider playing a different position just because I don’t have your prototypical QB build,” Huesman said.

Source: MSN Sports

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