After he tied for the fastest 40-yard dash at the NFL combine last month, it wasn't known if Donte Jackson would run at LSU’s pro day on Wednesday.
Didn’t need to. Didn’t have to.
But with an eye clearly on his future, in front of coaches and scouts from all 32 NFL teams that gathered in LSU’s indoor practice facility, Jackson declined to stand on the 4.32-second fully automatic time he recorded in Indianapolis.
Aiming to work himself into the first round of the draft, he cranked out a hand-timed 4.31 on the first of two runs — a time that was validated when former Tigers sprinter Aaron Ernest, an 11-time All-American, matched it a few minutes later.
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“That’s fast ... he’s fast,” an admiring Jackson, who also ran for LSU track coach Dennis Shaver the past two springs, said of Ernest.
Jackson should know.
With his 40 time, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound cornerback was one of the stars of LSU’s pro day — even though he took part in that one timing event and only two physical tests. He tied for third in the standing broad jump at 10 feet, 2 inches and had the fourth-best vertical leap at 37 inches, a half-inch behind Ernest.
Arden Key said he had a good showing at LSU's pro day.
Jackson also had a nice performance in individual drills, all of which may help get him to where he wants to go on the draft boards in the next three weeks.
The Metairie native, ranked by NFLDraftScout.com as the 13th cornerback and 99th player available overall, may have needed a solid performance Wednesday to make a move up.
Which is one of the reasons he lined up and tried to beat the clock with a sub-4.3 time.
“Competitiveness,” Jackson said when asked why he ran after dazzling at the combine. “I wanted to beat my time from the combine. I was successful, so that’s really what it was.
“Most definitely, I was shooting for something under 4.3,” he admitted. “But 4.31 is fast, so I’m OK with it. I’m not disappointed at all. I felt like I ran good, felt like I ran a 4.2. When I didn’t see 4.2 (on the video screen), it was like, ‘That’s all I had in the tank, so it was OK.’ ”
That, coupled with his familiarity with the surroundings, which included many of his current and former teammates, made it a successful day, Jackson said.
“It went great,” he said. “Coming out here, I felt a lot more comfortable than I did at the combine. Getting out there and having everybody watch, it was a great experience. ... I’m happy with the way I performed today.”
Pro day is often the last chance for players to make an impression on NFL teams ahead of the draft.
Wednesday’s session included much more individual work, which suited Jackson mainly because he was the only LSU player to be scrutinized by the scouts after taking turns with 70 other potential defensive backs at the combine.
“I did eight different drills today, so it (was) way better ... I was more comfortable,” he said. “I felt better. I was cramping at the combine during the drills and I still did them. Here, I was more healthy, more hydrated and I warmed up good.”
Jackson has made just one visit so far, to the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, but that figures to change soon.
He said he’s gotten a lot of feedback from coaches and scouts since his combine experience.
“They like what they see on film: Aggressive, tough, smart football player,” Jackson said. “That was something I’ve been feeding off while I’m training. I want to make sure I clean up my technique and keep watching film from when I was at LSU.”
The ultimate goal, he said, is to continue the LSU tradition and be the latest in a long line of talented secondary players that go on to the next level.
“It’s like a conveyor belt of DBs that come out of LSU,” Jackson said. “I’m just trying to keep the tradition going. We want to show the world why we're really 'DBU.’ ”
Several LSU football players participated in the school's pro day Wednesday in Baton Rouge. Click here to see full results.