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NFL hopefuls perform at Pro Day

By Tom Downey
On March 19, 2014

Miami University held its Pro Day Wednesday, as several former football players showed off their skills to the few NFL teams in attendance.

Cornerback Dayonne Nunley, punter Zac Murphy and defensive lineman Austin Brown are the most notable former RedHawks looking to make the jump to the next level.

Only scouts from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals were at the pro day, a sharp contrast to last year, when over half the NFL was represented. The difference was that last year the pro day featured current Denver Broncos quarterback Zac Dysert and this year's crop doesn't have a player of Dysert's caliber.

Nunley, Murphy and Brown are unlikely to taken during the NFL Draft, but do have a chance to get an offer for an NFL training camp.

Nunley battled a hamstring injury that limited his ability to participate. He tweaked it during his second 40-yard dash, tried to battle through it, but eventually pulled out during one of the defensive back drills.

"I actually tweaked it last Tuesday and I've been rehabbing and rehabbing just trying to get it ready for this week," Nunley said. "I got that first 40 in and it felt good.

Nunley said he didn't know what his 40 time was and what is important in the eyes of NFL teams isn't what he did during the pro day, but what he did on the field.

"Tape speaks for itself," Nunley said. "Just watch the tape. I've been doing this for four years and I feel like that's enough, so we'll see."

Brown may have had the most impressive day, clocking in with a 4.97 second 40 time and pumping out 32 reps on the bench press. The 32 reps would have been good enough for a tie for third among defensive lineman at the NFL Combine. The 4.97 time is impressive for a player who weighed in at nearly 300 pounds.

The pro day was once again held in less-than-ideal conditions, as the athletes battled the cold, wind and rain.

"We didn't have great conditions, we've never had great conditions at Pro Day," Brown said. "It's not a big deal, you've just gotta overcome the adversity. And shout out to Mr. Sayler, cause that bubble is gonna be up in a couple of months and then we won't have this issue anymore."

Nunley's biggest challenge at the next level will be his lack of size, as he is shorter than desired for an NFL cornerback. He'll have to make his impact as a backup and on special teams if he wants to stick on a roster.

Brown battled injuries for the latter part of his career at Miami, but his size and potential might be enough to get a training camp invite. He projects as a 4-3 defensive tackle in the NFL.

As a punter, Murphy is highly unlikely to get drafted since most NFL teams (except for the Jacksonville Jaguars) don't draft punters at all, let alone in the early rounds. However, given his performance during the season, he should at least get a chance in training camp.

As for the current Miami team, the RedHawks start spring practice March 31.

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