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IOWA CITY — Iowa football players aren’t tested in the 40-yard dash during their days as Hawkeyes. It’s not ignored, it’s just something that’s attacked in pieces.
So when pro day rolls around in late March, Iowa’s NFL prospects have an idea what their 40 time will be, but there is an air of mystery. How will they perform? What are expectations?
A few Hawkeyes emerged still sweaty from what center Austin Blythe called a “six-hour job interview” and very satisfied with how things went in front of NFL scouts on Monday.
“We just trust (strength and conditioning coach Chris) Doyle with what he’s teaching us,” running back Jordan Canzeri said. “A lot of guys performed really well today. That was awesome to see. It’s great to have a coach like coach Doyle. The hard work we put in counted for us.”
Some unofficial laser times made were leaked. Canzeri’s 4.43-second 40 was second to the 4.33 wide receiver Tevaun Smith put up. Smith fought knee injuries last season, but still was second in the Big Ten with 17.59 yards per catch.
Canzeri, who rushed for 2,072 yards during his Iowa career, couldn’t remember running a 40 during his playing days. But since the Rose Bowl ended in January, Iowa’s senior NFL prospects put time in with Iowa’s strength staff to work on combine drills, including the 40.
Canzeri benefited from a former Hawkeye you definitely know. Former Hawkeye wide receiver (and sprinter) Tim Dwight helped Canzeri with overall technique.
“He helped me a lot,” Canzeri said. “He’s still really fast at his age (Dwight is 40, by the way). It was really good having someone like that coach you.”
A handful of Hawkeyes already put some times and lifts on paper at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, Ind., last month. For instance, Blythe put up 29 repetitions of 225 pounds at the combine, so he passed on that for pro day. Blythe was one of four Hawkeyes invited to the combine, with kicker Marshall Koehn, safety Jordan Lomax and defensive end Drew Ott being the others.
So, there was pressure for non-invitees to perform on Monday. Tight end Henry Krieger Coble seemed relieved and happy with the numbers he put up.
“There was definitely a lot of anticipation leading up to it, and you always want to do your best,” said Krieger Coble, who caught 35 passes for 405 yards last season. “Now having done it, it’s a big relief and having done pretty well, I feel really good about it ... This was my combine. This was something we knew we had to do well in, give ourselves the best chance to keep our careers going.”
Krieger Coble said the work he put in during his career at Iowa helped his pro day 40.
“A huge part of your 40 is getting out and getting that first 10 (yards),” he said. “We practiced that all time, we’ve done that since freshman year. It all plays into it, that’s how coach Doyle does it. That’s how he’s done it for a long time. It’s worked.”
Blythe improved his numbers across the board except in the broad jump, where he stayed at 8 feet, 3 inches (Smith topped the group again with a leap of 10-2).
It’s all kind of like a game of black jack right now. You hit a number you like — whether it happens at the combine or pro day or during a visit with a team — you hold on it.
“I talked to coach Doyle and he recommended not benching,” Blythe said. “He’s been in the business for a long, long time. I’m going to take his advice when he gives it to me.”
Overall, all 32 NFL teams were represented at the Hansen Performance Center on Monday. Eighteen Hawkeyes participated in drills.
Defensive end Drew Ott was measured (just more than 6-4 and 277 pounds), but did not participate in drills. Ott, of course, is awaiting an NCAA decision on a medical hardship waiver for a fifth year of eligibility at Iowa in 2016. That news could still be a couple of weeks away.
Tight end Jake Duzey, who suffered a knee injury, also weighed in. Three former Hawkeyes — long snapper Casey Kreiter, linebacker Quinton Alston and quarterback Cody Sokol — also participated.
Kicker Marshall Koehn and punter Dillon Kidd didn’t participate in timing and drills, but did show off their skills to scouts at Kinnick Stadium.
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