The LSU football Pro Day on Wednesday looked like a class reunion.
There were more than two dozen of the most recent graduates of the program working out for NFL personnel at the indoor facility.
Most were members of the 2012 team, though a few were two or three couple of years removed from the program. Among the spectators were several former Tigers already playing in the NFL as well as numerous current players in the midst of spring practice.
“It’s good to get old friends back here,” said kicker Drew Alleman. “A lot of guys have been off in Florida and Texas training, and I haven’t seen them in a while. We met in the locker room this morning, and it was like old times.
“This is the last time we’ll all be together. It was good to get together and say, ‘Hey,’ and get some (phone) numbers to keep in touch.”
Most of the former players on last year’s team knew the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31 was their last game as Tigers when they played in it.
But junior cornerback Tyrann Mathieu’s season came to abrupt end in August when he was kicked off the team, and he later chose to forego his senior season.
Punter Brad Wing’s season ended after the regular-season finale at Arkansas when he was suspended for the bowl game, and he later chose to skip his final two seasons.
“I think there’s an element of closure, but not in a negative way,” Wing said. “It’s kind of bittersweet. It’s great being here. Everybody doesn’t get to participate in a pro day. I had a great career here and made friendships I’ll have for a lifetime, but it’s a bit sad to be leaving.”
Doing their thing
While backs and receivers were being timed and linemen were pumping iron, Alleman and Wing focused on standard special teams work.
Alleman passed on the opportunity to run and lift and such.
“It really would have been pointless,” he said. “I probably would’ve been the laughingstock.”
Alleman said he’s had private workouts with the New Orleans Saints, Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts and has others scheduled with the Pittsburgh Steelers and “a couple other teams.”
Wing said he liked the fact the NFL coaches working with him asked if there was anything he wanted to demonstrate. He chose to show his directional kicking and “Aussie pooch punt.”
He said he’d like to get drafted but is expecting to sign as an undrafted free agent, “go to (training) camp and try and win a job.”
“If I kick it farther and higher,” Wing said, “that should be enough.”
Bringing the memories
Former LSU safety Ryan Clark, an 11-year NFL veteran who is an annual visitor to the school’s Pro Day, marveled Wednesday at how things have changed since his day in front of the scouts in 2002.
“I was never good enough for this day to be important,” joked Clark, who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent. “But this is awesome to see these guys be able to fulfill a dream.”
They did it in front of more than 100 NFL general managers, coaches and scouts and ESPN cameras.
“We didn’t have anything like this,” said Clark. “We just ran around a little and did a few drills. We didn’t have any stands and no media. So to see what it’s become is awesome and how far this football program has come.”
Other former LSU and current NFL players looking on were Marcus Spears (Baltimore Ravens), Corey Webster and Rueben Randle (New York Giants), Stevan Ridley (New England Patriots) and Donnie Jones (Philadelphia Eagles).
Also on hand were former LSU defensive line coach Pete Jenkins and former Southern coach Stump Mitchell, who is now the running backs coach for the Arizona Cardinals.
Jenkins still teaching
After 38 years as a college and pro coach, the 71-year-old Jenkins is still at it in retirement — working each January and February for Competitive Edge, a Houston-based group that prepares players for the NFL draft.
This year, Jenkins worked with defensive ends Barkevious Mingo,Sam Montgomery and Lavar Edwards, and defensive tackle Bennie Logan — who could all go in the first three rounds of the draft.
“Here’s the consensus on those guys: They’re really good people and they’re willing workers,” Jenkins said. “They all have different skill sets. They’re not alike. They’re different guys, but they’re all highly-skilled.”
Saints out in force
As usual, most of the Saints front office, coaching staff and members of the player personnel department — including General Manager Mickey Loomis, coach Sean Payton and new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan — made the short drive up from Metairie for the event.
Several Saints coaches conducted individual positions drills, duties that fall to the coaches of the NFL team that’s closest to the school, after the players were measured and timed.