They all waited for the time to appear on the large video board towering over LSU’s annual pro day Monday.
After all, Deion Jones, just minutes before, had finished with a time of 4.39 seconds on his first 40-yard dash run, a personal record for the former LSU linebacker.
Jones barreled through the finish line, completing his second and final attempt at the 40, and he immediately glanced to the video board.
Good friend and current NFL starter Kwon Alexander pointed his phone toward the board, the photo application open and ready to work.
Jones’ parents and other family members sat on metal bleachers, their eyes focused on the board.
Finally, Jones’ second time popped up and — wouldn’t you know — it was even better than that first: 4.38.
Jones smiled, Alexander snapped his photo, and the family of the kid they call “Debo” did what you’d expect.
“Everybody screamed,” father Cal said, smiling.
Jones, the ex-Jesuit and LSU standout, continued his blazing run through the NFL scouting process ahead of the draft in late April, racing to one of the best 40-yard dash times of any linebacker.
He bettered that disappointing 4.59 he ran last month at the NFL combine, soaring to a time that had some baffled.
“What the hell?” Alexander joked about his reaction.
According to NFL.com, the “recent best” 40-yard dash time for a linebacker at the NFL combine is Jon Alston’s 4.40 in 2006. The fastest linebacker at this year’s combine ran a 4.47.
Jones’ already-lofty stock — he made waves duringJanuary’s Senior Bowl — rose a few notches in front of coaches and scouts representing all 32 NFL teams.
Jones left himself in awe afterward. Reporters surrounded the star of a somewhat quiet pro day — just nine competitors — after his blistering run.
How in the world did he increase his combine time by such a large margin in just three weeks?
“Did they have a breeze come through?” the Algiers product joked to laughs.
The real answer is something pretty simple: Jones ran with his eyes open from start to finish, something he didn’t do at the combine, he said. There, he swerved from the start, over-corrected and nearly hit one of the combine’s gadgets.
“In that drive phase (at the start), I usually kept my eyes closed until I felt like I was rising up,” he said. “At the combine, that didn’t work. I was all the way to the right, and then I went all the way to the left, and I felt it. That was terrible. I almost hit one of the sensors!”
On Monday, Jones increased his vertical jump by 2½ inches, too, hitting a mark of 35.5 inches as, clearly, the day’s winner. Offensive linemen Jerald Hawkins and Vadal Alexander chose to participate in individual workouts only, sticking with their 40-yard dash and shuttle times from the combine.
Former LSU defensive back Jalen Mills increased his 40 time from 4.61 at the combine to 4.48 at pro day. Pro day often yields better results compared to those from the combine.
Why? Cal Jones knows.
“Being here at home, most of the guys were comfortable,” Cal said. “I looked at Deion, and I could tell he was comfortable.”
Jones measures in at just under 6-foot-1 and 222 pounds. His smallish size is a hindrance for some. Undersized is a word that’s often used to describe him.
Try telling that to Kwon Alexander, a 6-1, 227-pound third-round pick last year who developed into a starter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“It’s a big issue. That’s a problem with this process now,” Alexander said. “They always worry about who’s bigger and who’s got longer arms. That really doesn’t matter. If you’re a baller, you’re a baller. You’re going to play regardless.”
His size isn’t scaring away many. In fact, Jones, projected as a second-round pick, said last month that he’d met with basically every NFL team. On Monday night, he was scheduled to have dinner with representatives from the New Orleans Saints.
The Saints have never drafted an LSU player in coach Les Miles’ 10 years leading the program.
Miles was told Jones’ time before speaking to a gaggle of reporters Monday during pro day.
“Not many linebackers in history will run like that,” he said. “That guy may be the fastest linebacker I’ve been around that has had any size to him at all.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @RossDellenger.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Deion Jones graduated from John Curtis.He is a graduate of Jesuit High School.