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BOGACZYK: Roberts Rules Among Herd Pro Day Dozen

March 11, 2015



HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - On the 2015 Pro Day for Marshall football, the two-hour session opened some eyes and displayed the same thing on Wednesday morning that the last two seasons have for Coach Doc Holliday's program.

"There's a reason we've won 23 games the last two years," Holliday said as 12 of his 2014 seniors went through their paces before scouts from nine National football League clubs. "We've got good players. Like I always say, it's a personnel-driven game.

"We've got good players, and I think it showed out here today."



There were five offensive players and seven defensive players participating in the workout - held for the first time in the indoor facility of the Chris Cline Athletic Complex. And the Herd dozen were supported in person by the MU coaching staff and plenty of their teammates.

The group included quarterback Rakeem Cato, center Chris Jasperse, tight end Eric Frohnapfel, wideouts Tommy Shuler and Craig Wilkins, defensive linemen James Rouse, Arnold Blackmon and Ra'Shawde Myers, linebackers Neville Hewitt, Jermaine Holmes and Raheem Waiters and cornerback Darryl Roberts.

Mark Gale, Marshall's assistant athletic director for football operations, kept things running smoothly. And while all 32 NFL clubs will receive reports on performances, the teams with reps eyeing the Herd up close were Baltimore, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, New England and Pittsburgh.

Many among the Herd had their moments - especially when it is considered no Marshall players were invited to the NFL Combine last month -- , but if this were a final exam, the guy who really aced it was Roberts, the cornerback from Lakeland, Fla., known to his teammates as "Swagg."

"Swagg has blown me away all along," Holliday said. "Why he didn't get invited to any of the (senior) all-star games or the combine is beyond me. He blew away all of the Combine numbers at corner."

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Roberts wasn't alone in putting up big numbers. Rouse, the Herd's star defensive tackle, did 38 in the pro bench (number of reps at 225 pounds). That topped the best Combine number, 37, by Miami (Fla.) defensive tackle Ereck Flowers.

"That's the most I've ever done," said Rouse, who spent recent months with Roberts and other NFL hopefuls in training sessions at Ignition Athletic Performance in Cincinnati.

As for Roberts, he posted a 39-inch vertical jump that would have ranked fifth among corners at the Combine. His 11-4 broad jump would have been No. 2. His 23 pro bench reps would have ranked second among corners and his best 40-yard dash of 4.36 would have played sixth against other Combine corners.

And for the last session of Pro Day, Roberts was out there in appropriate fashion as a man cover corner, alone, on an island, so to speak.

`It was all right," Roberts understated on his day, when asked if he was disappointed he didn't get a Combine invitation. "I just did what I was supposed to do. I don't worry too much about what I can't control. I do what I've been doing and just try to keep the chip on my shoulder and perform the way I can.

"The whole time I was training in Cincinnati at Ignition, I was putting up the same numbers. I told myself, `Go hard, and it will pay off.' Do the drills the way I can do them."

Rouse and Roberts gave credit to their Herd coaches and teammates in addition to the Ignition personnel.

"I just think we do so much repetition of things, that a lot of other organizations don't do with their guys, so when we do it, we're just comfortable and it feels like second nature. We worked with Coach Ben (Creamer) and Coach Clif Marshall there and we do this every day, 2-3 months. It's not hard. It's non-stop, a good program, a faith-based organization. We train, we work, we grind. It's blue-collar, and that's me."

The 6-foot-5, 275-pound Rouse said he "loved" his broad jump of 9-7, a number that would have put him just outside the top 10 at the Combine.

"I think my experience going into this was about working hard in Cincinnati," Rouse said. "I think I did pretty well, and yes, I do feel better about my (NFL) opportunity. I think I showcased today what I needed to showcase.

"The biggest thing for me today was just to work hard, be technically sound. You're going to get out of it what you put into it, so just work hard."

Cato, the Herd's record-setting quarterback, was hampered by a hamstring pull and his running was limited. But he threw well in position drills, out of direct and shotgun snaps from Jasperse.

"I feel good," said Jasperse, the erstwhile Herd walk-on who started every game of his college career and played in two postseason all-star games, including the Senior Bowl. "I PR'd (personal record) on everything I wanted to do, did a lot better than what I have been doing. I've improved a lot. It just shows that hard work matters.

"I've been working out at Charlie Petrone Training, in Knoxville, Tenn. He's a guy who (Herd legend and Knoxville native) Chad Pennington worked out with from high school on and he gave a lot of credit to Charlie. Chad thought it would be a good fit for me. Chad has been there, done that.

"So, I tried it out and I did great and I'm really happy with how it turned out today. I think I did pretty well in the position work, all the drills. I was happy how it went. It was about just keep doing my thing, keep playing football."

Jasperse said he was "a little bummed" about not receiving an NFL Combine chance, but said everybody in the NFL that needs to know the numbers and reports from Wednesday's session will get that.

"They were doing all the same testing; all the same drills I did here, that's what they did at the Combine," Jasperse said. "For me, it's bigger to go to the Senior Bowl, because it's actually playing football, and that's the stuff that matters.

"I was really pleased to play in the Senior Bowl. I wasn't really upset, but I was a little bummed I wasn't invited to the Combine but what was most important was to get ready for this big day. And so I did."

Now, it's a seven weeks wait until the April 30-May 2 NFL Draft, and then the flurry of rookie free agent signing and rookie camp opportunities that follow.

"I hope I'll get an opportunity," Roberts said. "It's just so much repetition, it's second nature out there. Just try to be smooth, be efficient. There have been so many reps coming up to this day and training so much for this day that once I got here, everything just went out the window.

"I wasn't nervous, I just wanted to compete and show them what I was made of. I probably could have been better. There's always room for improvement, but I felt I had a pretty decent day today."

There were plenty of smiles, including those by Holliday.

"First of all having the opportunity to have our Pro Day in here in our indoor facility, our kids get the chance to show what they can do without weather being a factor," Holliday said. "A lot of our guys have done a tremendous job.

"Guys had the opportunity to showcase what they can do. And at end of the day they're going to look at us here at Marshall and say they've got some pretty good players out here running around. And that's what you want."

A look at some of the Herd numbers from Pro Day on Wednesday (players listed alphabetically):

DE Arnold Blackmon

  • 40 yards - 4.94
  • Vertical jump - 33-0
  • Broad jump - 9-0
  • Pro bench (225-pound reps) - 26

QB Rakeem Cato

  • 40 yards - 4.71
  • Vertical jump - 34-0
  • Broad jump - 9-5
  • Pro bench (225-pound reps) - N/A

TE Eric Frohnapfel

  • 40 yards - 4.78
  • Vertical jump - 30-6
  • Broad jump - 9-6
  • Pro bench (225-pound reps) - 16

LB Neville Hewitt

  • 40 yards - 4.64
  • Vertical jump - 37-0
  • Broad jump - 9-11
  • Pro bench (225-pound reps) - N/A

LB Jermaine Holmes

  • 40 yards - 4.82
  • Vertical jump - 36-6
  • Broad jump - 9-5
  • Pro bench (225-pound reps) - 22

C Chris Jasperse

  • 40 yards - 5.38
  • Vertical jump - 24-0
  • Broad jump - 8-5
  • Pro bench (225-pound reps) - 25

DE Ra'Shawde Myers

  • 40 yards - 5.13
  • Vertical jump - 31-6
  • Broad jump - 9-5
  • Pro bench (225-pound reps) - 21

CB Darryl Roberts

  • 40 yards - 4.36
  • Vertical jump - 39-0
  • Broad jump - 11-4
  • Pro bench (225-pound reps) - 23

DT James Rouse

  • 40 yards - 4.89
  • Vertical jump - 29-0
  • Broad jump - 9-7
  • Pro bench (225-pound reps) - 38

WR Tommy Shuler

  • 40 yards - 4.72
  • Vertical jump - 29-6
  • Broad jump - 9-0
  • Pro bench (225-pound reps) - 12

LB Raheem Waiters

  • 40 yards - 4.50
  • Vertical jump - 32-6
  • Broad jump - 10-1
  • Pro bench (225-pound reps) - 17

WR Craig Wilkins

  • 40 yards - 4.89
  • Vertical jump - 32-6
  • Broad jump - 10-2
  • Pro bench (225-pound reps) - 9