LSU will have more players at the NFL combine than any other school
By James Varney, The Times-Picayune
February 25, 2010, 2:26PM
The NFL combine, that annual smorgasbord of college talent sampled by league coaches and managers, dresses the participants in tight fitting shorts and shirts. But underneath that uniform, the combine will be wearing purple and gold.
LSU will have more football players at the combine than any other school. In all, the NFL invited 12 Tigers to the analytical viewing in Indianapolis at which hopeful players are measured, timed, tested and interviewed.
For all the players, the combine is their first taste of the next and final level. But for LSU tailback Charles Scott, it also is another chance to play the game he loves.
In the middle of a ferocious battle in Tuscaloosa, Ala., last November, Scott was sandwiched by two Crimson Tide defenders and crumpled to the ground with a broken collarbone. His senior season, and arguably LSU's best shot at beating undefeated Alabama that day, vanished.
"It truly is a blessing to be able to get this opportunity again," Scott said Wednesday on the eve of his trip north. "But I'm going to go up there and just be myself, be what I've been my whole life."
After a breakout junior season in which Scott gained more than 1,000 yards and scored 18 touchdowns en route to being selected an All-SEC player, Scott didn't seem to get as many carries as some expected during his senior campaign. Nevertheless, he was an undisputed leader on the team, a status cemented by his performance at Georgia in which he broke several tackles and refused to go down on a 33-yard touchdown run that won the game late in the fourth quarter.
Scott said he knows the talent level at the combine will be stripped to nothing but the college game's elite. But having played in huge games on national television, Scott said, he isn't overwhelmed. Rather, his approach is purely business-like.
"On Friday nights before game day I would lay down thinking, the next day I have a job to do, I have a responsibility to myself and my team," he said. "I'm not on a team right now, but I still have a responsibility to myself, to show my worth."
Scott has been working out with Chip Smith at Competitive Sports in Duluth, Ga. Like many other combine invitees, Scott chose to move away from the familiar surroundings of his college program and focus on the skill sets the NFL will be closely tracking in Indianapolis.
The combine will seem somewhat familiar to Scott, given how many teammates he will encounter. He won't even be the only running back: Keiland Williams also has been invited.
Only one of those LSU players, safety Chad Jones, is an underclassman, which suggests the Tigers' talent level the past two years was deeper than their back-to-back 7-5 and 8-4 seasons suggest. On the other hand, Tigers faithful can take heart in the fact SEC rivals Florida and Alabama also are heavily represented, and each of those programs features a heavier allotment of underclassmen, which suggests each of them will face considerable rebuilding issues in 2010.
The LSU contingent includes players who have long projected as possible first-round picks, such as offensive tackle Ciron Black and wide receiver Brandon LaFell, along with players who will present intriguing options to teams that will begin drafting them April 22 in New York City.
Among those are Harry Coleman, the Tigers' leading tackler as a strong safety his junior year who moved to outside linebacker for his senior campaign, and return specialist Trindon Holliday, an outdoor NCAA sprint champion billed as the fastest player ever in college football.
So complete is the LSU lineup it even features siblings: Jones will be joined by his older brother Rahim Alem, a defensive end who was the program's best pass rusher the past two seasons. Like Coleman, Alem is a player who could contribute in the pros in more than one capacity, as some teams may see him as a blitzing linebacker.
Also slated to represent LSU at the combine are defensive linemen Charles Alexander and Al Woods, linebacker Perry Riley, and cornerback Chris Hawkins.
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