Ziggy's Rising with the Rams ...
More _ much more _ from Mizzou’s Pro Day
By Jim Thomas
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
COLUMBIA, MO. _ I covered University of Missouri football from 1985-1990 for the Post-Dispatch, an inglorious stretch of gridiron play in which the Tigers were 18-47-1 under Woody Widenhofer, and then Bob Stull. The best the Tigers could muster during that six-season span was a 5-6 mark. Usually it was worse. Much, much worse.
Thursday marked my first visit to the Devine Pavilion, Mizzou’s spacious indoor practice facility, and my first time to meet Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel. As I gazed at the banners hanging in the building _ each one designating a bowl appearance or conference title _ I pointed to the l-a-r-g-e gap between the 1983 Holiday Bowl and the 1997 Holiday Bowl. Those were the dark ages of modern Mizzou football.
“See that gap between those two banners?” I told Pinkel. “That’s when I covered the team.”
“It must have been fascinating,” Pinkel deadpanned.
(I’d heard he had an underrated sense of humor; and there it was.)
No, what’s fascinating is what’s going on now with the program. The Tigers had six players at the NFL Scouting Combine last month in Indianapolis. As someone who has covered the NFL since 1991, entire DECADES have passed where the Tigers wouldn’t have six players at the Combine.
And this year, the Tigers very well could have four players drafted in the first two rounds: wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, defensive tackle Ziggy Hood, safety William Moore, and tight end Chase Coffman.
The Rams, for instance, like Maclin and Hood a lot. If Hood is still available early in the second round, it looks like he will be one of the players in consideration for St. Louis at No. 35 overall.
But the Rams had plenty of company at Mizzou’s pro day. A majority of NFL teams sent representatives to Columbia for Thursday’s proceedings, including Carolina, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Minnesota, New England, New Orleans, the New York Giants, New York Jets and Tennessee.
“I’m excited about that,” Pinkel said of Mizzou’s sudden draft presence. “I get excited, too, when all these scouts and all these coaches that are here talk to me about what great kids they are.
“I keep hearing that. And that really makes me feel good. Because I know they’re good football players, but they’re also good people. Most of them are on-line to graduate or have already graduated.
“And also, the reason why we have so many guys that very possibly are going to get drafted is we won 30 games the last three years. So there’s a strong correlation with having great players and winning.”
Several Tigers set personal bests during Thursday’s drills, not only a tribute to their work ethic but also to how they are prepared by the Tigers’ coaching staff, particularly strength and conditioning coach Pat Ivey.
“We test them all the time since they’ve been here,” Pinkel said. “So these test things _ they’ve done it since they were freshmen. So I think that we really prepare our kids for when they get into this arena, we’re evaluating you, testing you, looking at everything you do. They’ve been through it so much I think it really increases their chances for success.”
*THE UNFLAPPABLE CHASE DANIEL
Confident as always, Mizzou quarterback Chase Daniel was in good spirits following his workout.
“I think that I threw as well as I possibly could,” he said. “I threw really well at the Combine. I threw really well (Thursday). I’m very happy about that. And that’s a big deal. I’m usually my hardest critic, so if I’m happy about it then hopefully (the scouts) are, too.”
After testing well and throwing well at the Combine, Daniel wanted to show the pro scouts Thursday that he’d gotten quicker with his feet and quicker in his release. Dropping about a dozen pounds from his in-season weight _ he weighed 216 Thursday _ helped with some of that quickness.
Daniel said he lost the weight by eating better. He cut down on his portions at each meal, ate healthier food, and avoided late-night meals.
Daniel logged a personal best in the broad jump, and said he ran a 4.75 in the 40, which was an improvement over his Combine time.
Even with the good outing Thursday, Daniel still projects as a mid_ to late-round pick at best.
“He threw the ball well,” said an AFC personnel executive who attended Thursday’s workout. “He’s a competitive kid. He’s a fighter. He does throw the ball pretty good. He’s 6-foot, you know. Some people can’t get past that, and other people don’t have a problem with it.”
So will Daniel get drafted?
“It’s not a strong quarterback class,” said the personnel executive. “If somebody wants a backup quarterback that’s smart, and is pretty athletic, got a pretty good arm. . . .So yeah, I can see him getting drafted. Late probably.”
* ELLARD PRAISES MACLIN
Former Rams wide receiver coach Henry Ellard, now working for the New York Jets, attended the Mizzou pro day. In fact, he helped run the wide receiver drills and spent some time on the side talking to Maclin.
“He said I probably did a little better than he thought,” Maclin said. “But it all comes with getting used to (pro-style routes). It’s something that I’m not really used to, but I don’t think I’ll have any problem getting used to it.”
Ellard has compared Maclin to a young Torry Holt.
“It’s an honor to have a receiver coach compare you to one of the greatest receivers of all time,” Maclin said. “Torry’s definitely somebody that I idolized.”
Thursday’s workout was important for Maclin because he didn’t get a full workout in at the NFL Scouting Combine. Maclin fell extending for a pass at the Combine, and tweaked his knee.
“It scared me for a second,” Maclin said.
But once he got up and started walking around, Maclin realized the knee was fine. “I feel great now,” he said.
Several of Maclin’s relatives watched him work Thursday as well as his St. Louis-based agent, Jim Steiner.
Mizzou tight end Chase Coffman attended Thursday’s pro day, but except for catching a few passes from a stationary position, did nothing. The stress fracture in his foot that he suffered in the Tigers’ Alamo Bowl victory over Northwestern has healed more slowly than expected.
“It’s been more than frustrating having to sit and watch at the Combine, sit and watch the first pro day, sit and watch here the second one,” Coffman said. “I want to be out there doing everything else with my teammates; doing everything I can to help my draft stock. Right now, the only thing that I can do is be patient and not re-injure myself.”
Coffman hopes to have an individual workout in a few weeks, but isn’t sure when that will happen. He’s hoping to be 100 percent healthy in a couple of weeks.
*CASEY TWEAKS KNEE
Mizzou wide receiver Adam Casey, who fought his way back onto the field following early season knee surgery in ’08, suffered a setback during a shuttle run drill Thursday.
“When I went to go plant on my left knee, it just slid out a little bit on me, and I felt it twitch,” said Casey, a walk-on from Parkway West High.
Casey left the field for a while but came back with the knee taped, and participated in all of the pass-catching drills for pro scouts.
“I was thankful to be able to fight through it and finish,” Casey said. “I would’ve walked through the routes if I had to. There’s no way I was not going to finish this.”
When I first saw this title on the PD page, I nearly choked ...
Re: Ziggy's Rising with the Rams ...
MU's Hood continues offseason success
Thursday, March 5, 2009 | 8:11 p.m. CST
Former Missouri defensive tackle Ziggy Hood performs a drill at Thursday's MU Pro Day at Devine Pavilion. ¦ VALERIE MOSLEY/Missourian BY Robert Mays
COLUMBIA — Ziggy Hood's father claims his son isn't complacent.
On MU's first Pro Day for NFL scouts on Thursday, Hood proved him right.
At last month's NFL Scouting Combine, Hood put on a show for the coaches and scouts in attendance. Hood did 34 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press, good for fourth among defensive linemen present. He also ran the 40-yard dash in 4.91 seconds, the second-best time for all the defensive tackles there. But rather than rely on his combine numbers, Hood did everything he could to make his wait a lot shorter on NFL Draft Day in late April.
"I was told that I had a big combine workout, but it's bigger than that," Hood said. "It's a personal goal to me to make myself better. It's about going out there and achieving things that I probably couldn't achieve on a daily basis."
Those achievements started on the first test of the day Thursday. Hood sat among a group of scattered teammates, his iPod headphones in, using the smooth crooning of Jamie Foxx to calm himself down before he made his way to the bench press.
Hood usually listens to more upbeat music before a lift, but the stage he found himself on provided plenty of stimulation on its own.
"I actually just wanted to relax," Hood said. "If you're too uptight here you're not going to do too well. I just wanted to make myself feel a little better."
After three of his teammates tried to do their best with the 225 pounds of weights, Hood moved onto the bench. He sat upright for a moment, his head just clearing the bar, and after a stinging slap to the ribs from strength and conditioning coach Pat Ivey he took a single deep breath, slid down onto the bench and lifted the bar from its supports.
To a growing set of cheers from the mob of teammates present, and for an audience of scouts donning a rainbow of Viking purple, Packer green, Giant blue and more than a dozen other pieces of logo-stamped garb, Hood launched the bar up from his gargantuan chest 35 times. The performance was equal to his personal record, and just one rep more than his vaunted display at the combine. But that single rep made all the difference.
Hood leapt from the bench and in complete unison with the rest of his teammates let out a roar that echoed above the music playing in the room.
"If I did 34 or less, I would've been up tonight questioning what I did wrong," Hood said. "I would've been thinking about what I can do better.
"To get it will help me sleep better."
That self-motivation provides no surprise to Hood's father. Charles Hood coached his son when he was young, and he says that in every aspect of his son's life, he has never needed an extra push from anyone.
"I never had to yell at him," Charles Hood said. "I never once had to spank him. He always did what you told him, and most of the time you didn't even need to tell him."
Charles Hood watched his son's impressive display of strength wearing a shirt that features a photograph of him and his soon-to-be famous son. Ziggy is in his uniform, his massive arm wrapped around his slender father. Around the photo, in large golden type are the words, "Dreams Do Come True."
If the dream is the NFL and a hefty paycheck, then Ziggy Hood has used the past three weeks to make it an inevitable reality. Hood is widely regarded as one of the best three defensive tackles in the draft, and even before his showing on Thursday was thought to be a potential first round pick. But for Charles Hood, most of the dream is already complete, and it was long before his son traveled to Indianapolis for the combine.
He beams about his son's accomplishments, but the praise never gets to football. He talks of the education that his son worked to receive. He recalls how Ziggy always did things the right way, never "joyriding around or doing that teenage stuff" which gets many young stars in trouble.
"He was always focused on where he wanted to get to," Charles Hood said.
On Thursday, when the contingent of MU players moves from the weight room to the team's indoor complex, that focus and Ziggy Hood's dominance moves with them. His 35.5-inch vertical jump was also a personal best, and would have put him in the top 10 of all defensive linemen at the combine. Another roar emerges from the black-and-gold-clad onlookers.
For the rest of the day Hood displays his elite speed and quickness for his position in a variety of agility drills. But eventually fatigue sets in. He fails to follow directions and makes an error during a drill run by a scout from the New Orleans Saints. The misstep is met with a smile from the scout. Hood has already wowed enough of the crowd for it to be nothing but a positive day. Tiny lapses matter much less than they did a few hours ago.
But they still matter for Ziggy Hood. As he crosses the line to finish the drill a clap of frustration rings from his nine-and-a-half-inch wide hands and around the facility. Where scouts and onlookers see a brief and probably insignificant misstep, he sees missed opportunity.
He doesn't plan on missing any others.
When asked how he feels about his ascension up the draft and his position as a possible first round pick Hood shakes his head and doesn't even allow himself to entertain the thought.
"Don't settle," Hood shoots back. "A lot of people are telling you the good news, but you can still fall flat on your face. Keep giving them a reason as to why you should go in the first round, keep working."
He then says that he will be back for the second Pro Day on March 19. He claims that he knows he has 36 reps in him somewhere.
Dad was right. Even great is never great enough.
There is a picture of Ziggy accompanying this article, but it wouldn't paste for me .,. Since we are not allowed to post any links, maybe one of you more skilled computer wonks can post it. Nick? Av?? :D