- Mitch Sherman, ESPN Staff Writer
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LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska’s three participants at the recent NFL combine headlined pro day at the school on Thursday as nine former Huskers worked out before representatives from 26 NFL teams.
Randy Gregory, Ameer Abdullah and Kenny Bell, as expected, drew the most attention from scouts. In particular, Gregory, who pulled off his T-shirt for position drills to reveal a physique noticeably larger than last fall, attracted a crowd at every turn.
At 6-foot-4½, Gregory added three pounds since the combine last month, weighing in at 238. After a two-year Nebraska career at defensive end, the first-round prospect showcased his skills primarily Thursday at linebacker.
“He’s big-time,” safety Corey Cooper said. “He’s a freak. But it’s just Randy. He’s a better athlete than everybody on the field.”
Gregory has received a lot of attention since his declaration in January to leave Nebraska after his junior season. Some analysts question his ability to hold up physically at the next level, especially in a 4-3 defense similar to what he played in college.
“I’m used to it, being here,” Gregory said of the spotlight. "Any athlete at this level, at this point in their life, they’ve dealt with that. Just knowing me as a player, I think I’m my biggest critic. Nothing that’s said in the media or from anybody else hasn’t been said in my own mind.
"I know what I need to get better at. I don’t need anybody to tell me that. I think I’m doing a good job of self-evaluating.”
Gregory did not participate in testing at pro day, He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.62 seconds at the combine.
Abdullah, the second-leading rusher in Nebraska history, appeared to improve upon his combine performance of 4.60 in the 40 with a time, he said, in the 4.4- to- 4.5 range.
He posted 24 bench-press reps at the combine and ranked first among running backs in vertical leap (42 ½ inches), broad jump (130 inches), three-cone drill (6.79 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (3.95 seconds).
“I’m a competitor, man,” Abdullah said Thursday. “I like to just compete. Any time you can get in front of scouts and get in front of the professional eye, you should take advantage of the opportunity. I didn’t do everything today, but I felt like I came out here and did what I wanted to show.”
Abdullah said he believed he could have “done much better” at the combine.
“I know what kind of athlete I am,” he said. “I think I’m the best back in this class.”
Abdullah is represented by his brother, Muhammad Abdullah, an attorney who also attended pro day.
Other Nebraska pro day notes:
Nebraska coach Mike Riley attended a portion of the pro day in addition to several other coaches from his new staff and a crowd of current Huskers, who watched from the balcony at the Hawks Championship Center. Former Nebraska assistants Rich Fisher, who coached receivers under Bo Pelini, and Rick Kaczenski, the defensive line coach for the past three seasons, also attended.
Anderson, who led Nebraska with 103 tackles last season, and Cooper said they were motivated after not receiving invitations to the combine. Both defenders said they believed they tested well Thursday before the scouts. Anderson, at 229 pounds, ran a 4.6 40-yard dash, he said, posted 18 reps on the bench press and a 34-inch vertical. Cooper said he ran 4.57 in the 40 with a 34-inch vertical and 21 reps on the bench.
Bell, Nebraska’s all-time leader in receiving yardage and catches, attempted to improve on his 4.42-second combine time in the 40. Bell and Abdullah caught passes from Joe Ganz, who started at quarterback for Nebraska in 2008.
Gregory let his stellar 40 time from the combine do the talking, while others impressed scouts with improvement.