Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Duckett headlines Spartans on display for NFL scouts

March 13, 2002

Under the watchful eye of NFL scouts, the “Diesel” proved he has the power and speed to play in the NFL.

Tuesday was MSU’s NFL Pro Day at the Duffy Daugherty Football Building, and junior running back T.J. Duckett seized the moment with a 4.41-second 40-yard dash -a personal best.

Cleveland Browns executive vice president and director of football operations Dwight Clark was one of the many NFL representatives impressed.

“He ran very, very fast for 250 pounds,” Clark said. “He was impressive today. He caught the ball better than I thought he would just from watching all the tapes.”

The 6-foot-1 bruiser said he approached the workouts like a college exam, adding he felt he earned an “A.”

“I had to go out and run a great time and I think I did,” Duckett said.

Duckett said he may do individual workouts before the April 20 draft, but now he’s taking a wait-and-see approach.

“I’m glad it’s over with to be honest with you,” he said. “I can’t wait now.”

Many draft predictions have Duckett going in the first round to the Browns with the No. 17 pick. Whether the experts are right, Clark wouldn’t say.

Clark said Cleveland wants to add a running back in free-agency, but said Duckett’s workout improved his stock. He said Duckett ranks in the upper echelon of running backs with UCLA’s Deshawn Foster, Boston College’s William Green and North Dakota State’s Lamar Gordon.

Duckett wasn’t the only MSU athlete impressing the scouts Tuesday.

Seniors Herb Haygood and Josh Thornhill were in attendance as well.

Despite a toe injury, Haygood turned in 40-yard dash times of 4.41 and 4.44 seconds. He added a 38-inch vertical leap to his workout.

Haygood said he has a workout scheduled with the NFC champion St. Louis Rams on April 3.

Thornhill’s 4.58-second 40-yard dash time was impressive for a 6-2, 239-pounder. He said the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers have expressed the most interest.

“It’s a waiting game,” Thornhill said. “You just gotta wait and hope teams find favor in you.

“I ran better and did what I could do.”

Senior running back Little John Flowers and senior tight ends Chris Baker and Ivory McCoy also worked out for scouts.

When it was all said and done, both Duckett and Thornhill referred to the draft process as a job interview.

Despite Duckett’s first-round predictions, he isn’t taking anything for granted.

“I’m unemployed, I need a job,” he said. “It’s up in the air from this point on.”

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