- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Roy Roundtree plans to treat tomorrow like he did so many fall weekends in Michigan. He’ll plan on going to bed early tonight.
Wake up early Thursday. Eat some breakfast and then head for one of the most critical days of his life.
Michigan’s pro day is Thursday and for most of the Wolverines participating, it is their first real chance to prove themselves in a Combine setting in front of scouts. Most of them plan on treating it just like they did when they played football games in Ann Arbor.
“I’m pretty focused on all of the drills because that’s what I’ve been working on since the Outback Bowl,” Roundtree said. “Also been working on my 40. Everybody wants to see if you run fast or run slow.
“The biggest thing is the 40.”
Most of Michigan’s prospects would agree. Only one, Denard Robinson, had the chance to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Others, such as Roundtree, defensive lineman Will Campbell and safety Jordan Kovacs, were able to show off for scouts in various all-star bowl games.
But for the majority of Michigan’s players, this is their first -- and potentially last -- chance to make any sort of impression on the men who will determine their professional futures.
“I’m in a position where I have a lot to prove,” cornerback J.T. Floyd said. “Scouts want to know how fast I am, so I have to prove that. My ball skills, I didn’t have any interceptions my senior year and that was the first time, every year I had an interception except my redshirt freshman year and senior year in college.
“High school, multiple interceptions. I am anxious to show my ball skills and movement. That’s critical for a corner.”
For many of Michigan’s pro day prospects, it does come down to speed. Roundtree said his goal is to show he can run the 40-yard dash in the 4.4-4.5 second range. Kovacs said he feels like he needs to prove he is an athlete who can run. Same with middle linebacker Kenny Demens.
Demens, who has been training with Floyd and Craig Roh in Arizona, said they have worked intensely on preparing for the 40-yard dash, which is more about being a sprinter than anything football related.
But straight-line speed is an important trait to scouts.
“Just because you’re a sprinter doesn’t make you a football player,” Kovacs said. “There’s a lot of guys that can run fast. But this training now, while we try to make as much adaptable to football as possible, realistically it’s not much. This is a horse-and-pony show next Thursday, shorts and t-shirts, All-American is what we call it. We’ll see.
“It’ll be fun to get out there and run and show off a little bit.”
Michigan’s players may have one more advantage, too: Robinson.
The former Michigan quarterback’s transition to wide receiver has been one of the more intriguing story lines for teams in this year’s draft cycle. His ulnar nerve injury combined with a poor performance at the Senior Bowl was eased a bit by his work at the NFL Combine, where he showed he could catch passes.
Presumably almost a month healthier, scouts will likely descend on Ann Arbor, Mich., to see him run routes and catch passes one more time as he continues to work his way back to health.
For most of the past four seasons, Robinson has been the main draw for Michigan -- the most popular of all the Wolverines. Popular enough in college football to end up on the cover of next year’s NCAA Football video game by Electronic Arts. That popularity can now help his teammates one more time.
The byproduct: More scouts are in the building, which means a greater chance for another Michigan player to make an impression.
“Obviously, Denard will bring a little attention,” offensive lineman Elliott Mealer said. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to catch somebody’s eye who was mostly there to see him and maybe draw some interest my way.
“I think it will definitely help all us seniors.”
It can only help so much. Robinson may bring them in the building, but once they are there -- it is up to the players to show themselves off.
“We have a lot of prospects here,” Roundtree said. “So it’s going to be a full house.”
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