LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Performing for a media heavy audience, spectators looking on from outside of the fence at Abe Martin Stadium and NFL scouts for teams like the Seattle Seahawks and Greenbay Packers, draft prospect Dez Bryant showed off his football talents.
There were a lot of questions heading into Tuesday's "private" Pro Day for the Lufkin High School and Oklahoma State University football standout. Scouts wondered if the high profile wide receiver still had hamstring problems, can he last a 16-game season in the NFL, how fast is he in the 40, among others.
Observers we spoke with said many of those questions should have been answered. The wide receiver showed up in apparently good shape, ran a consistent 4.5/40 and caught the ball well.
Bryant's broad jump was 11-feet-1 inch, and he posted a vertical leap of 38 inches, a sign that the WR can get the ball at the highest point.
Bryant said he felt good about the workout. He said in the beginning he was a little nervous, but once he started running routs, "Everything fell back into place and felt natural. I'm really glad to be home." The NFL scouts there declined to make any comments or do any interviews.
KTRE Sports Director Nick James said, "Dez looked explosive. He ran well, he caught the ball well and he looked like he was in shape."
OSU quarterback Bobby Reid threw passes for Bryant. Reid, who declared for the 2010 NFL Draft instead of using his final year of eligibility, said Bryant was on mark overall. He noted Bryant did have a little trouble on change of direction. That was an observation also made by former Lufkin Panther and Texas A and M star Reggie McNeal. McNeal added, "Overall, Dez is a great player and is really good at what he does.
McNeal lives in Houston when he's not playing quarterback and wide receiver for the Canadian Football League. He said he knew this workout would be big and he wanted to participate to "Show them I can play and run routs like the best of them." McNeal said he thought he did pretty good, "My routs were crisp. I'm just hoping to open some eyes and that somebody will give me a call. Just a chance to get in the door and once I get in the door, I promise they won't be disappointed."
As for Bryant, he said he's headed to Dallas for a meeting with the Cowboys tomorrow and a scheduled workout later this week. On draft day, Bryant said he plans to be in New York. "They invited me to attend. I think it's a great honor and plan to be there."
The Lufkin High School graduate and Oklahoma State University standout is projected as a first found NFL draft pick. He is believed to be one of the best wide receivers available in the draft.
The teens watching from the fence at Abe Martin Stadium may be on the outside, far from a front row seat, but it's not stopping them from looking in.
"I'm just trying to look like everybody else, just here to watch him," said Uric Godet.
"I'm out here to see Dez, one of my favorite players, play," said Kristen Mitchell.
They said although watching from the other side of the fence isn't an ideal spot, it's worth it to see the wide receiver in action.
"I've seen him play in high school and college and I'm just ready to see him perform at the next level," said Godet.
On the inside, the NFL draft prospect ran routs in front of a media crowd and pro scouts.
"It's a big-time workout, Dez Bryant's first workout, first chance for scouts and NFL teams to watch him play," said former NFL player Corey Chavous with DraftNasty.com. "Also another former Lufkin star Reggie McNeal was working out."
Those watching from the fence weren't the only ones trying to get their foot in the door. McNeal took advantage of the chance to impress scouts from teams like the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks.
"[There] was a lot of eyes, everybody was here today," said NFL hopeful Reggie McNeal. "I mean I knew it was going to be big with Dez picked to be one of the top 10, 15 picks in the draft so I knew there was going to be a lot of eyes out here from different teams, so I needed to come out here and show them that I can still play and run routs just like the best of them."
Despite the workout being closed to the public, those on the inside took note of the fans watching from afar.
"I've been on the other side of the fence, so I mean I just want to give a shout-out to those people on the other side of the fence because I might be on the other side of the fence tomorrow in another workout," said Chavous.
To them, watching their hometown star from a distance is better than missing him altogether.
NOTE: Bryant finished his 2008 college season for OSU with 87 receptions for 1,480 and 19 touchdowns. He was ruled ineligible for the rest of the 2009 season on October 7 for violation of an NCAA bylaw when he failed to fully disclose to the NCAA his interaction with former NFL player Deion Sanders. He was considered the best receiver in 2009 and had received some Heisman trophy consideration before his suspension.