FOOTBALL: College - Illinois State v Appalachian State

Steven Miller impressed NFL scouts with his explosiveness and speed.

BOONE – Assistant coaches and scouts from about 20 NFL teams evaluated players at Appalachian State’s annual Pro Day on Monday.

Seventeen players participated in the workouts, including eight former ASU players. Nine were from other college teams, including Eric Breitenstein, a former Watauga High School record-setter who is Wofford’s all-time rushing leader.

ASU players who participated were: running back Rod Chisholm, linebacker Jeremy Kimbrough, punter/kicker Sam Martin, cornerback Demetrius McCray, running back Steven Miller and safety Troy Sanders. Two former ASU players – running back Cedric Baker-Boney and safety Mark Legree, a 2011 NFL draft pick who is now a free agent – also worked out.

Kareem Young, ASU’s strength and conditioning director, said that the ASU players performed well.

“All these guys did a lot of good things; they looked very sharp,” Young said. “We had real good reviews from teams. They were impressed with the explosiveness of our kids.”

Perhaps the one that enhanced his NFL chances the most was Miller, who rushed for 1,368 yards for the Mountaineers last season. Miller, who said he measured at 5-6, 171 pounds, came up big in drills geared for running backs as well as kick-return workouts.

He drew applause from some scouts after a vertical leap of 43 inches, a top number among NFL running back prospects this year. And Miller, who was told that his top 40-yard-dash time was 4.34 seconds, said that one assistant coach told him he expects he will be on an NFL team next season.

“I’m a stickler on myself and my numbers, but I feel I did well enough to get my name floating around,” said Miller, who was told by a couple of teams that he would be invited for further evaluation.

“When you have scouts clapping for you, you’ve put on a show,” Young said.

Miller’s vertical leap raised eyebrows, Young said.

Before that drill, Young said, “I walked up to a scout and said, ‘Now you see where his chest is, right? That’s where his feet are going to end up in just a little bit.’”

Miller didn’t disappoint. Evaluators raised the measuring bar for the drill several times before he was finished. And Young said that scouts were impressed with Miller’s explosiveness as well.

“We know that he’s a tough guy but they have to try to figure out can he take the pounding at the next level,” Young said. “I believe he can.”

McCray, a 6-1, 187-pound cornerback who had 10 career interceptions at ASU, is projected to have the best chance to be taken in April’s NFL draft. He said that he did better and had all “personal bests” in drills across the board as compared to his performance earlier this year in the NFL Combine, in which McCray’s 80-inch wingspan was the tops among all cornerbacks.

McCray’s broad jump of 11 feet, among the best of cornerback prospects, impressed scouts Monday.

Martin, who averaged 45.9 yards per punt last season, the second-best season average in ASU history behind former NFL punter Harold Alexander, is also a draft possibility. The fact that Martin can double as a kickoff specialist could work in his favor.

“I think that is one of the biggest things, if not the biggest, that might separate me from some of the other punters,” Martin said. “There are a handful of good punters in this draft, but there are only a couple that can kick off and that’s become a trend among NFL teams.”

Kimbrough, a 5-11, 240-pound inside linebacker who finished his ASU career with 312 tackles, also worked out at running back upon request of some of the NFL scouts.

tbowman@wsjournal.com

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