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Will Wows the NFL Scouts

(Photo Credit: Bruce Winter/The Express-Times)

Lehigh held its first-ever Pro Day at Lehigh this Thursday, and the not-exactly-well-kept secret around campus had senior OL Will Rackley, senior DB Jarard Cribbs and senior DB John Kennedy work out for a wide variety of NFL scouts.

A full complement of local press was there to capture the day, where the star of the show, Rackley, did an individual workout to complement the partial workout he performed at the NFL Combine in February. (more)

Two excellent signs about NFL team's interest in Rackley came from the workout.

First is the mere fact that Lehigh had it's own pro day - there was no sharing a pro day with kids from, say, Penn State, Villanova or Temple. There's enough buzz around him to warrant a special trip to the Lacrosse fields around Murray Goodman, not "we'll work you in when we can".

Second is the fact that, according to Michael LoRe of the Express-Times, almost half of the teams in the NFL showed up to watch the workouts, including representatives from the Eagles, Steelers and Super Bowl Champion Packers.

"I think it was a good performance, I've been working hard since the Combine to get my numbers better," Rackley said. "It's a lot more relaxing out here because I met a lot of these scouts already. It's a more chill environment, I definitely prefer this over the Combine."

Keith Groller of the Morning Call adds a ton more information as well with his report:

Rackley participated in everything but the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine several weeks ago in Indianapolis. A hip flexor injury kept him out of the 40-yard dash in Indy, but Rackley was good to go in everything on Thursday.

"I thought it was a good performance," Rackley said. "I've been working hard ever since the combine to get my numbers better and all of my running times were better. I still don't know how I got a 23 [inches] in the vertical jump, but I jumped a 27 here today.

"It was a lot more relaxed out here because I've already met a lot of these scouts. It was a good environment. I preferred this over the combine.

"I'm so close to accomplishing my dream. The draft is going to be a really exciting time, and to know all of the work I've put in over the last four months and my four years here at Lehigh has paid off, is going to be a cool thing."

As soon as Lehigh offensive lineman Will Rackley completed his tests, many of the NFL types, including New York Jets offensive line coach Bill Callahan and former Raiders head coach and current Seahawks assistant coach Tom Cable, headed for their cars.
Will Reich of the Brown & White also checked in with a report as well, with some interesting background as well.

"I wanted to come out and show everyone that one, I'm healthy, and two, I'm working hard at getting ready for the next level," Rackley said.

"The combine was a neat experience, but due to a [really] minor hip flexor tweak, my trainers and I decided that I would wait until my Pro Day to run the 40," he said. "This was my opportunity to show the scouts what kind of athlete I am - that I have the ability to make blocks in the open field."

Of the drills Rackley did participate in at the NFL Combine, he managed to improve upon all of them on Thursday.

His most notable improvement was on the vertical jump, in which he exploded more than four inches higher than the 23 inches he achieved at the Combine.

"I have high expectations for myself," Rackley said. "I knew that I could improve in every area and I showed that today. I have a handful of private workouts coming up with some teams, and I expect to improve my performance in those workouts."

Head coach Andy Coen had nothing but great things to say about Rackley, the incredible tackle who protected the blind side for Lehigh quarterbacks for the last four years.

"It's exciting for Will and us," Coen said. "He warrants the interest. You only do something like this when you have a special player and that's what he is. I can't say enough about Will as a person and how hard he has worked. He's got himself in a great position and hopefully things go well for him.

"To have Will’s name called (during the NFL Draft) is real important and people will start to really know more about Lehigh. You get your name out, we have Eagles training camp here, a player in the NFL, we’re winning games … it’s just icing-on-the-cake types of things that really help you.

"When I was at Penn, we had an offensive tackle that I coached that was drafted in the third round by the Giants. His name was Jeff Hatch," Coen said of the 78th overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft. "It was definitely not at this level of interest."

While many of the NFL scouts left after Rackley finished, Cribbs and Kennedy (and a slew of other local players) did continue to work out and hopefully convinced and NFL team to potentially give them a shot at an NFL training camp - maybe as return men.

"It's definitely a blessing to be part of this experience," Cribbs said. "Not everybody gets a Pro Day, not everyone gets scouts to come to your school and see what you're all about.

"Will is handling all of this like the champ he is, like the captain we voted him to be last season. He hasn't gotten big-headed at all. He still comes in and jokes around with us. He doesn't act any different. He's still that cool person, our teammate, our brother. When he gets drafted, I will be just as happy as he is."

"I'm just thankful for the opportunity," Kennedy said. "Will is in the spotlight and there’s always people in the shadows. Today was the opportunity for us to step out and make a little name for ourselves."


PokerFiend said…
Really cool football blog! Cheers!

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