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IOWA CITY — On the last padded practice before the Hawkeyes played host to Michigan, on the last repetition during individual drills, Greg Mabin broke his ankle.
“It was actually during one-on-ones, the period before we went to team,” the former Hawkeye cornerback said last week. “What sucks even more is the horn had already blown and everyone is out there chanting, ‘One more rep, one more rep.’”
Mabin allowed himself a laugh. The broken bone cost him the final four games of his Iowa career, including the magical night against Michigan and a bowl game in his home state (Mabin is from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Iowa made it to the Outback Bowl in Tampa).
That was then and this is now. The now for Mabin and a bunch of Hawkeyes is pro day Monday morning at the Hansen Performance Center. A handful of Hawkeyes, including cornerback Desmond King, defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson, tight end George Kittle and quarterback C.J. Beathard, the four NFL Combine invitees from Iowa. will run through drills to give what likely will be all 32 NFL teams a glimpse into their athleticism.
Mabin isn’t quite ready to run. He’ll meet with teams Monday, but he won’t participate in drills. He estimates that his leg is around 80 to 85 percent healthy.
“I wasn’t able to run until three weeks ago,” said Mabin, who’s been training and rehabbing his injury in Fort Lauderdale. “I’m still working my way back.”
The injury didn’t allow Mabin a chance to cap his Iowa career, which included 36 starts, two forced fumbles, three interceptions and 16 pass breakups. The last time he wore an Iowa uniform was for the Penn State game, a 41-14 nightmare for the Hawkeyes.
So yeah, that does kind of sting.
“At some points it didn’t even seem real,” Mabin said. “Being a senior and going out due to injury and the last game of my career was when we got whupped at Penn State, I had a bitter taste in my mouth about that. Now, you just have to realize there are some things you can’t control. Once it happened, I went through my high and low phase. It’s going to affect you, because you’re not out there with your guys. I just tried to stay positive. The last thing I wanted to do was suck all of the energy out of our team. I wanted to show them even with adversity, you can remain positive.”
Even within his family, Mabin isn’t on an island with working toward the NFL. His cousins Jordan Mabin and Dorin Dickerson spent a couple of years in the league. Their advice going through the injury and trying to gain NFL interest has been not to rush it.
“If anything, they say it’s better to show what you can do later at 100 percent than trying to be 80 percent and just going out there,” Mabin said. “They told me to take my time with the injury and with rehab and make sure I’m going at my own pace.”
As far as dialogue with teams, Mabin said he has heard from a few, has a visit scheduled with a team and has a meeting with another.
“They’re interested and they just want to see where I’m at right now, health-wise and how I look out there,” Mabin said.
And that’s why, even though he won’t be able to participate, Mabin feels it’s important to meet with NFL teams Monday.
“They (the NFL) haven’t had much of a chance to see me,” said Mabin, who’ll have private workouts with teams in a few weeks. “I’ve been in south Florida rehabbing. I didn’t go to the combine. I didn’t participate in any postseason individual bowl games. It’ll be a good opportunity just for me to introduce myself and let them know the kind of person I am.”
At the Combine, King and Beathard didn’t run 40-yard dashes. King suffered an abdominal strain while working out and preparing for the Combine. Beathard was still feeling the effects of the pulled hamstring he suffered during the Hawkeyes’ Outback Bowl defeat to Florida.
They said they would run and perform agility drills Monday.
Johnson weighed in at 316 pounds at the Combine. He said that was a little heavy for him. He could be a little lighter Monday and try for better numbers than he had at the Combine.
Kittle ran a 4.52 40 and jumped 11-feet in the standing broad jump. Those numbers have helped him draw some draft momentum, landing him at No. 5 on NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock’s tight end list. Mayock has King at No. 4 on his list of nickel corners.
The NFL draft begins April 27 in Philadelphia, Pa.
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