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Auburn, Minnesota Hold Pro Days For NFL Hopefuls


Auburn running back Peyton Barber and defensive back Jonathan Jones were among the NFL prospects who showcased their talents at Monday's pro days across the country.

Auburn has produced quite a few elite NFL talents over the years — none bigger, of course, than current Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

Newton won NFL MVP honors this past season after leading the Panthers to a 15-1 regular season record behind 45 total offensive touchdowns.

This year, 13 different Auburn products are hoping to make the jump to the professional ranks with aspirations of having similar success to what Newton has experienced.

On Monday afternoon, all 13 participated in the school's pro day.

Running back Peyton Barber surprised a lot people with his decision to leave school early after recording 1,017 yards and 13 touchdowns after his junior season, the first in which he had any sort of role on the offense.

But the running back ultimately decided to leave to help out his mother, who is currently homeless.

"This isn't her first rodeo at being homeless," Barber said at the NFL Combine last month. "I was homeless from the time I was 7 to 14. It's nothing new. It's just a little bump in the road for us. I'll overcome it."

Barber twice ran the 40-yard dash, recording times of 4.59 and 4.60 seconds while also recording a 32-inch vertical jump and a broad jump a little longer than nine feet.

"The scouts out here today told me that I did a great job. They said I showed off everything I said I was going to show off. I'm happy with what I did," Barber told

After not being invited to the NFL Combine, defensive back Blake Countess turned heads with a 4.49-second 40-yard dash run along with bench pressing 225 pounds 21 times.

Countess played three years at Michigan, twice earning All-Big Ten honors, before transferring to Auburn.

"As a competitor, you want to be in those places. You want to be able to compete with the best," Countess said. "To not get an invite is definitely a motivator. You have to control what you can control and just keep moving forward."

Fellow defensive back Jonathan Jones, who ran a 4.33 40 at the NFL Combine, stood on that time but performed other drills.

"I think people are excited to see what I can do," Jones said. "They're excited about what I've shown so far, so hopefully whatever team I go to, I can compete to play and get on the field.

Minnesota prospects get their chance to shine
Held at the University of Minnesota's Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex, 10 players from the school showcased their talents in front of 28 NFL teams.

Cornerbacks Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Eric Murray along with linebacker De'Vondre Campbell all participated one week after being in Indianapolis for the Combine, while wide receiver KJ Maye did so as well after playing in January's Senior Bowl.

Murray – a three-year starter for Minnesota – is coming off a season in which he earned All-Big Ten Third-Team honors after totaling 66 tackles with seven passes defensed and an interception.

Monday's pro day gave him the opportunity to hone in on his footwork.

"Backpedaling is not a natural motion that everybody does," Murray said via "You walk forward every day, so I'm just working on it and making it a part of me."  

Just how fast did he run?
Chris Johnson's 4.24-second 40-yard dash has yet to be beaten since he recorded the time at the 2008 NFL Combine.

Some have come awfully close to beating the time; none have surpassed it.

At Saturday's NFL Regional Combine in Minnesota, it seemed as if the unthinkable happened when wide receiver Wendall Williams out of little known University of Cumberlands clocked in at 4.19 seconds.

While that was the hand-timed run (digital recordings had him coming in at 4.32 seconds), Williams has put himself on some team radars.

He also recorded a 45-inch vertical jump which would have been the best leap at this year's NFL Combine.

"To be honest, I feel like I can get more explosive," Williams said via "It's something I have been working on these past two months is me getting to be more explosive."

Williams was an NAIA All-American kick returner during his senior year, as he averaged 32.4 yards per return while also returning three kicks for touchdown.




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