A total of 13 NFL teams, as well as representatives from a host of CFL and UFL clubs were on hand to watch 12 Florida Atlantic players showcase their abilities Thursday. The NFL teams represented Thursday at FAU were Carolina, Chicago, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Miami, New Orleans, New York (Giants), Oakland, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Tennessee.
Fighting against a stiff wind that gusted up to 20 miles per hour, there were some notable performances.
Quarterback Rusty Smith was, of course, the headliner. The 6-5 (even), 224 pound Smith was clocked at 4.83 in the 40-yard dash and showed off his strong arm and quicker release. Smith, whose long windup had previously generated concern from scouts similar to that from another state of Florida quarterback, has worked hard to improve it. According to scouts in attendance, Smith was a bit sporadic with his accuracy, but possesses the raw tools to earn late round or PFA consideration.
Smith had been considered a bit of a sleeper candidate for the NFL. His former head coach, the legendary Howard Schnellenberger had once proclaimed him to be a potential first round prospect . I believed in him then and believe that he could surprise if given a shot.
The most decorated player in Florida Atlantic history, Smith had started 36 consecutive games, but was lost for the rest of his senior season after injuring his left (non-throwing) shoulder against Middle Tennessee State. He is the Owls’ and Sun Belt Conference’s all-time leader in career and single-season passing yards (10,112) and touchdown passes (76). In 2007, his best season, he was the Sun Belt player of the year and MVP of the New Orleans Bowl. Two years ago, he was the MVP of the Motor City Bowl. With Smith out for much of the 2009 season, FAU finished 5-7 and did not play in a bowl game.
While the scouts may have been there to see Smith, fullback William Rose was the most impressive player on the field. Rose, whose soft hands could see him moved to H-back in the NFL, was credited with a 4.53 in the 40-yard dash and posted a 34" vertical, 9-10.5" broad jump and put up the bar 21 times in the bench press.
No FAU players were invited to the 2010 Combine, so these performances were critical if Smith, Rose or any other Owl is to be drafted.