By Craig Degel
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The 40-yard dash. For the weekend warrior, it probably means nothing. But for the collegiate athlete hoping for professional stardom, it means everything.
Scouts from around the National Football League were at Arizona Stadium yesterday to conduct a mini-combine to get another look at some graduating Wildcats.
"We've got to look at them to reconfirm all of the numbers that we have," Tampa Bay Buccaneer scout Mike Ackerley said. "It (the 40-
yard dash) has been something they've done for years and years to judge speed and quickness."
For defensive backs, receivers, linebackers and running backs, the 40-yard dash is an integral part of the way teams evaluate players.
For offensive lineman, however, running 40-yards in a game may never happen. Unless of course, they pick up a loose ball and go fumblin', stumblin', and rumblin' towards the end zone. Therefore, the scouts take split times at 10, 15, and 20-yards.
"We do the shorter stuff on the linemen," Ackerley said. "It's an indicator of how quick they start."
About 17 players from last year's football team participated in the mini-combine.
Ontiwaun Carter, Arizona's career rushing leader, made the most of his opportunity with a time of 4.48 seconds.
"It's all right, I'm not disappointed. Put it all together and I'll be all right," Carter said. "When I get to camp and somebody puts a ball in my hand, then I'll be all right." Carter has taken the semester off from school to concentrate on all the things he feels he needs to accomplish to make it in the NFL.
He has been on a weight training program and the results were clearly visible on his 5-foot-9 frame.
"Look at his arms, he was never that big when he played here," Carter's agent Ron Glickman said. "His neck is good, too. He's seen some orthopedic specialists and gets massages."
Many people have questioned Carter's size in the past, saying he is too small for the pros, but there is still plenty of interest. Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders are already among successful small NFL running backs.
"Right now it's down to probably Phoenix or Dallas," Glickman said. "And the Cowboys are considering (former Washington tailback) Napolean Kaufman and Ontiwaun."
The list of players joining Carter at yesterday's mini-combine: Lamar Harris, Jim Hoffman, Pulu Poumele, Kevin Gosar, Paul Stamer, Akil Jackson, Warner Smith, Cullen Plousha, Chris Lopez, Joe Smigiel, Hicham El-Mashtoub, Mu Tagoai, Spencer Wray, Lamar Lovett, Tony Bouie and Mike Scurlock.
Steve McLaughlin, last year's Lou Groza Award winner as the nation's best placekicker, kicked in front of the NFL scouts.
Also in attendance was defensive end Tedy Bruschi. But Bruschi, who will return for his senior season next year, was not playing but videotaping his former teammates from the sideline.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers, new expansion teams, will pick first in the NFL draft on April 22.
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