03/17/2012 - The University of Tennessee hosted Pro Timing Day on Friday afternoon at the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center, as 10 former Vols showcased their abilities in front of 21 NFL scouts. Among the former Vols that participated were Anthony Anderson, Art Evans, Nick Guess, Malik Jackson, Austin Johnson, Ben Martin, Tauren Poole, Chip Rhome, Matt Simms and Daryl Vereen. For most of that unit, Pro Day is what they had been training for since the end of their playing careers at Tennessee. For Jackson and Poole - who earned NFL Combine invites - it was another chance to highlight their attributes. But for all 10 former Vols, it was a chance to come home. "This is calmer," Poole said, comparing it to his NFL Combine experience in late February. "You are not as nervous. I have been here, I'm used to it, I'm comfortable and I know everybody. At the combine, you don't' know people and you don't know what to expect. Here, I know what to expect and I am more familiar with this place." Overall, the former Vols were pleased with their performances, including Martin, who spent six weeks at St. Vincent's in Indianapolis to prepare. "I felt like I did pretty well," Martin said. "I showed that I was healthy and that I could do everything. I'm pretty comfortable with it. Now, I just need somebody to take a chance on me." The NFL Draft, which takes place April 26-28, will witness 32 teams taking chances to improve their futures. Johnson hopes he's one of them. "I got a lot of good feedback," Johnson said. "Teams seemed interested in me and wanted to talk more. I think I opened some eyes today to people maybe not looking at me until today. I felt good about the day. I felt strong. I just hope and pray for the best." - Tennessee football
Poole was a three-star running back out of high school, choosing Tennessee over Auburn, South Carolina and Clemson.
He saw action as a true freshman backup in 2008, recording 86 yards on 22 carries (3.9). Poole was again a reserve in 2009 as a sophomore, finishing with 85 yards on 10 rushes (8.5).
He started all 13 games in 2010 as a junior and had his best season, recording a team-high 1,034 yards on 204 carries (5.1) and 11 touchdowns, adding 22 catches for 171 yards (7.8) and one touchdown, earning All-SEC Honorable Mention honors.
Poole broke onto the scene as a junior, starting all 12 games. He became the 15th player to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark in single season for Tennessee and had the only 100-yard rushing performance against Alabama's defense in a 58-game span.
However, he had an uninspiring 2011 season as the only senior starter on offense and produced inconsistent stats on the ground. He finished with 693 yards on 187 carries (3.7) and five touchdowns, adding 21 receptions for 164 yards (7.8).
Poole is an average athlete with good footwork, but doesn't possess any special or distinguishing qualities and looks like a borderline draftable running back.
Strengths: Balanced runner with average athleticism and agility. He has a thick lower half with solid build throughout his frame. Poole is a physical runner and hits the hole with authority, lowering his head and picking up the tough yards. He runs with good pad level and always seems to be falling forward for positive yardage. Poole has quick feet with good vision to pick through defenses. He has solid hands and body control as a reliable pass catcher.
Weaknesses: Poole needs to show better patience to allow blocks to develop and is too often running up the backs of his blockers. He isn't naturally explosive as a runner and lacks elusiveness in the open field. Poole doesn't possess any dynamic qualities. He needs a few steps to get going with limited burst and foot speed. Poole has an inconsistent feel eluding tacklers and doesn't create a lot on his own. He doesn't display much power to push the pile or consistently break tackles. Marginal base strength in pass protection and no experience as a return man. He had a few injuries, most notably a tender hamstring, that caused him to miss some playing time. Poole had a subpar senior season, failing to match his numbers from 2010 and was benched at times due to ineffectiveness.
NFL Comparison: Lance Ball, Denver Broncos
-- Dane Brugler