A dozen former SU players got a chance to showcase their talents at Pro Day. 29 of the 30 NFL teams had scouts at Manley Field House. Here are my quotes, quips and takeaways from Wednesday's event:
Macky MacPherson or the Incredible Hulk?
That distinction became a little less clear after the senior center finished his bench press workout at Syracuse's Pro Day.
"I ripped my shirt off," MacPherson said. "I was angry. There are a lot of things I said that I can’t say now."
The SU center was halfway to his goal of 30 repetitions when his right shoulder slipped. It didn't end the workout, but it cost some energy to regain his composure. After eking out another nine reps to reach a total of 24, MacPherson walked away in anger.
"I was flying through and I did 15 easy," MacPherson said. "Then my right shoulder blade almost fell off the bench. I almost pulled my pectoral."
Despite the slip-up, MacPherson was content with his overall Pro Day performance. He told me his top priority in the upcoming weeks will be to improve fitness level. Although he isn't projected to be drafted, he said he's hoping the NFL connections to SU strength coach Will Hicks will land him a position as a backup lineman or longsnapper.
"Just to make a roster would be a dream," MacPherson said. "But right now, it’s getting my way into a camp, working my way onto a team. Whether they’re willing to put me on a practice squad or a roster, I’m willing to work my butt off to just stay in the place I am."
Over the past few weeks, Smith's 40-yard dash time has become a major topic of discussion. He ran a 4.84 at the NFL Combine last month, good for 30th out of 33 running backs. After Pro Day, Smith was all smiles. Unofficially, his time was somewhere in the high 4.5 and low 4.6 range.
"Anything’s better than a 4.84," Smith joked.
His improved time still doesn't put him at an elite level for players at his position. But Smith said he can still be a valuable addition to an NFL roster. He compared his style to Frank Gore and Marshawn Lynch, who use strength, not speed, to overwhelm opponents.
"I’m a physical running back," Smith said. "You need a ground and pound running back in the NFL, nowadays. We saw that in the playoffs with the Patriots and Seattle."
Before the combine, Smith worked with Bommarito Performance System, a training program based in Florida. The program changed his 40-time technique, including his opening stance and hand and feet placement. After a disappointing performance, he went back to Hicks to revert to his old habits.
"If you got four or five months to change a star, it works," Hicks said. "But if you only got four or five weeks, you better stick with what got you there."
In college, Spruill has played several different roles. To make it in the pros, he knows he will have to do the same.
"You can put me almost anywhere and I’ll get the job done," Spruill said. "That’s just the type of player you need on your team. That go-to guy and I could be that guy."
Spruill said he accomplished his main goal – to impress scouts with his athleticism. It was something he didn't have the opportunity to do at the NFL Combine. With almost 100 underclassmen declaring for the draft, Spruill did not receive a combine invite.
He played in the middle of Syracuse's 4-3 defense, but some scouts told him they project him to play elsewhere. That includes as outside linebacker or as a nickel back. (No, not that Nickelback.)
"He’s very versatile," Hicks said. "He’s going to be a great special teams player."
A few weeks ago, Bromley told the Post-Standard that he was one of the ten best defensive tackles entering the draft. On Wednesday, he may have backed it up. Bromley improved on all of his combine numbers, according to Hicks. It solidified him as Syracuse's best prospect in the draft.
"Brom’s tough," Hicks said. "He’s hard-nosed. He doesn’t say much. He just goes about his business and works hard. That catches a lot of people’s attention."
Bromley reiterated that he doesn't have a preference for what type of defensive scheme he goes to in the NFL. With the NFL Combine and Pro Day behind him, Bromley said he's looking forward to just taking in his last few weeks on campus.
Said Bromley, "I’m going to finish school, work hard at that and enjoy the process."