Steven Stone needed to put his best foot forward Friday.
After a broken foot caused the defensive end to miss the first two months of the 2009 season and limited his production for the remainder of it, Vanderbilt’s pro day, which attracted 29 scouts from 21 different NFL franchises was his best chance to make an impression before next month’s draft.
“There’s a lot of teams that didn’t even know I played this year,” Stone said. “So I really had to show them what I could do (Friday). Hopefully, I caught a few eyes.”
In all, 14 seniors from the Commodores’ 2009 team took part in drills. Only two of them, cornerback Myron Lewis and tackle Thomas Welch had been invited to the NFL combine.
Most of them, though, were scouted throughout the season.
Not so for Stone or safety Ryan Hamilton, who played just six quarters of football last fall because a torn chest muscle caused him to miss the remainder of the season. Both entered the 2009 campaign as borderline draft-worthy prospects but never really got the opportunity to enhance their reputations.
“I was a little nervous, but to be honest with you, I was more excited to come out here just to show everyone that I’m back at full strength and I can still move,” Hamilton said. “I felt real good. I felt quick.”
Hamilton spent eight weeks training at D1 Sports Training in Franklin. Stone spent much of the time since the season working out on campus before he too went to D1 for the last two weeks to “fine tune some things.”
Stone, who packed on 15 pounds in recent weeks and weighed in at 270 pounds, showed unexpected athleticism, particularly in the jumps. He outperformed fellow defensive end Broderick Stewart (232 pounds) in both the standing broad jump and the vertical jump.
Hamilton showed fluid movement in the on-field drills and answered any questions about his chest when he performed 18 reps on the bench press.
“You get the right people around you who know what they’re doing, and you take good care of your body and you go through the process correctly, I think it helps,” Hamilton said. “That’s what we did.”
Whether or not they did enough to convince a team to take a chance on them remains to be seen.
• Lewis participated only in the shuttle drills, which were the only events he did not perform at the Combine.
“It was just basically to do the things I didn’t do t the Combine, and try to excel at those,” he said. “I think I did pretty good. I think I could have done better – you could always do better, but all in all I think I did pretty well.”
The 6-foot-1 ½ 205-pounder is the only VU player who seems certain to be drafted. In the coming weeks, he said, he has interviews scheduled with Cleveland (March 25), Tennessee (March 29), Minnesota (April 6-7), Miami (April 9) and St. Louis (April 14).
“Whatever team wants to pick me up and give me the opportunity, I’m going to go ahead and take advantage of it,” Lewis said. “… Some team is going to like me and they’re going to pick me up. Then I’m going to do what I have to do.”
• Welch attempted to improve his 40-yard dash time from the Combine. He ran an unofficial 5.38, which was nearly one-tenth of a second faster.
• A number of former Vanderbilt players were on hand to watch the proceedings, including Chicago Bears’ teammates Jay Cutler and D.J. Moore. The latter was the only Vanderbilt player drafted in 2009.