Virginia running back Cedric Peerman had 44 catches out of the backfield
for the Cavaliers during his senior year, which will be a real asset as teams
evaluate his ability to be a standout performer in the NFL.
"It's something we really focus on at UVA. The running backs are
expected to be able to
do more than just carry the football," he told Scout.com.
"Being able to pass protect, play
special teams and also catch the ball out of the backfield is something
that Coach Groh really wanted us to do."
With his experience as a kickoff return specialist, Peerman is hopeful that
he can play that role for an NFL team during his rookie season. And while he's
face-to-face with NFL coaches and general managers this week in Indianapolis, he
wants to be sure that they can sense his love for the game and what he's going
to do to ensure that they'll be getting a player that they can count on from the
"I just want them to know that I'm coachable and I'm willing to do anything
and everything to be a part of the team," he said. "I want
to show them that I'm a good guy, that I work hard, have a great work ethic
and a lot of determination."
Purdue wide receiver Greg Orton, who has been preparing for the NFL
Combine at Palisi Speed School, believes that he's ready for all of the drills
that he'll be put through in Indianapolis this week.
"I've been making sure that I'm as prepared as much as I can be. I've
through the drills in my mind, focusing on trying to stay calm, getting ready to go out
there and perform," he told Scout.com over the weekend. "One of
the things that has been the most valuable in my training so far is eating
right. I never ate like this before in my life, watching your intake on sugar, sodium and
everything that is geared to help you to be faster,
more lean and stronger."
Orton led the Boilermakers with 69 catches in 2008 for 720 yards and five
touchdowns. And he believes that he's got what it takes to succeed in the NFL.
"My biggest strengths are my ability to be physical with the defender, going
up and getting the ball at its highest point during jump balls, and catching the
ball really well in traffic," he said.
When the 6-foot-3, 199-pound receiver was asked about his favorite moment of
his college career, he picked Purdue's 48-42 victory over Michigan, a game in
which he snared eight passes for 89 yards and a touchdown.
"It had been a while since Purdue beat Michigan," he explained. "Being part of that
win and being part of the key winning drive, that was
really fun for me and important to me."
Penn State WR Deon Butler makes a diving catch for a touchdown against Texas A&M.
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Penn State's all-time leading pass-catcher, Deon Butler, believes that his
consistency as a receiver is going to be noticed and appreciated by NFL talent
"I'm a consistent player day-in and day-out. I'm real smart because I study a lot of film," he said
during an interview with Scout.com. "So I pretty much have a
quick read of the defense and I know what's going on, and that definitely helps
me get separation and create the big plays that I've been able to create over the
A key advantage for Butler is that he was a walk-on at Penn State as a
defensive back during his redshirt freshman season before switching to wide
receiver as a sophomore.
willing to do whatever it took for the team to win games, and I felt comfortable
on offense," Butler said. "It also helped that I was on defense
the year before. I knew how to make defensive backs uncomfortable by knowing the
schemes that they were trying to play and
what they were trying to get me to do."
During his senior year, the Nittany Lion receiver set a school record when he
made his 168th career catch during a November matchup against Indiana.
"At that point in time it really didn't come across my mind because it was
early in the game. I knew that it was the reception that was going to pass Bobby
Engram, but it really wasn't until after the game when I really sat and thought
about it that it really hit me," the 5-foot-10, 168-pound receiver
recalled. "When you think about how long Penn State has been
playing football and with all that tradition, for me to be at the top of the
list above guys like Bobby Engram or Kenny Jackson or Bryant Johnson and other
great receivers, it really meant a lot."
While some draft eligible players may see the daily preparation for the
NFL Combine as a bit of a grind, Virginia tight end John Phillips isn't one of
"It really hasn't been all that tough, they've really done a great job at
Sportstars," he told Scout.com. "I'm actually training with
running back Cedric Peerman, so I've got some guys up here
to hang out with. And I just enjoy working out, so I'm really just enjoying the
At 6-foot-5 and 251 pounds, Phillips certainly has the physical frame to
knock heads with NFL defenders, and the Senior Bowl tight partcipant believes
that he can play at the next level for a very long time, partly due to his work
ethic, but also because of the roles he played in Virginia's offense.
"I think that with what we do at Virginia, being very
versatile in what we do—like playing fullback and going in motion and flexing
out—I can play a variety of positions," he said. "I think that's good for NFL teams when
they can have people who can play multiple positions."
Although Phillips set the bar for ACC tight ends with 48 receptions in 2008
for a total of 385 yards, the accomplishment that he's most proud of from his
college career was being elected team captain.
"It's a very prestigious honor to be elected team
captain by your peers," he said.
Purdue RB Kory Sheets runs for a gain at the Senior Bowl.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ever since one encounter with a scout at the Senior Bowl, Purdue running
back Kory Sheets has been on a mission to make sure everyone notices his speed
"Some of the people I've talked to don't think that I'm a 4.3 guy, they
think I'm a 4.4 guy or a 4.5 guy," he told Scout.com. "It's been a real big motivation thing, at the Senior Bowl, a scout told me that my speed wasn't all that amazing and that somebody else's
speed was a lot better than mine. From that point on I made my point to show
everybody that I'm a lot faster than a lot of people out there."
During his final season, Sheets showed plenty of speed to cause opposing
defenses to be concerned, rolling for 1,131 yards rushing and catching 37 passes
for 196 yards.
"When Purdue recruited me, receiving was something they noticed that I could
do in high school," he said. "So they used that to their advantage when I was out there and
had me catching balls out of the backfield, getting me into open field so
that I could make a lot of plays."
With experience as a return specialist, Sheets is confident that he could
handle that role at the next level. But if the team that selects him already has
a firmly-entrenched veteran returning kicks and punts, he'll still be eager to
play a role on special teams.
get in there and block with the best of them," he said.
Keep an eye on University of Buffalo quarterback Drew Willy this week, a
smart and efficient signal-caller who was the only true freshman to start for
the Bulls since they moved up into Division I-A.
"It was a tremendous honor, I didn't know if it was going to happen
freshman year," the Randolph, New Jersey native told Scout.com.
" During the second game against Syracuse, I was put in there late
in the fourth quarter and after that I pretty much just kept playing.
"Obviously, as a freshman quarterback, you're going to take some bumps. There's
not too many freshmen around the country who don't experience some ups and
downs. But I learned a lot that first year, and I think it helped me in the long
run to become
more mentally tough."
During his senior year, the 6-foot-4, 213-pound quarterback completed 65
percent of his throws for 3,304 yards and 25 touchdowns. And he only threw six
interceptions all year.
"It's just a credit to all the guys around me who helped me get to that
level," he said.
"I had been playing with a lot of them since we were freshmen or sophomores, so knowing your
teammates and gaining a lot of experience together made it that much better when
we won a MAC championship together. To get to a
bowl game was our ultimate goal, and a lot of the individual stats just take care of
themselves when you're trying to win games."
Even though he may not be heading into the Combine as well-known nationally
as some of the other top quarterbacks from around the nation, Willy is confident
that he'll have a good week in Indianapolis.
love competition and I'm looking forward to showing myself against the best guys
in the country, and I think I'll do well for myself. I respect a lot of guys
around the country and I'm going to learn from them just like they're going to
learn from me," he said. "In the spirit of competition, I'm ready to after it and to prove
to the NFL scouts and coaches that I'm a guy they want to take because I'm going
put everything out there on the field for my teammates and all the fans."
Click the player names to learn more about Cedric Peerman, Greg Orton, Deon Butler, John Phillips, Kory Sheets, and Drew Willy.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features
are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com. You can contact him by email
through this link.