(Photo Chris Granger/New Orleans Times-Picayune)
For the most part, 26 NFL teams represented at UC's Pro Day were looking at the usual suspects: Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard. But, good teams find gems in some of the lesser-known participants.
From my eye, Alex Daniels turned some heads with his versatility and strength. Craig Carey also played a variety of positions, but has the body and hands of a good tight end.
Brad Jones turned in some good numbers and it's evident that he's kept busy since the Sugar Bowl.
Then there's Marcus Waugh.
Listed at 6 feet and 270, he's probably more like 5-11. He says his weight is down. He doesn't look particularly sculpted running with his shirt off.
But, he can run, he can hit, and he just likes mixing it up on the football field. He also is the strongest Bearcats (based on in-season numbers). While he had a good showing at UC's Pro Day, it still wasn't the best Marcus Waugh has to offer.
"Yeah, it was a nerve-wracking day," said Waugh. "I kind of psyched myself out on the bench, I only did 29 (reps of 225 pounds). I haven't done 29 since my freshman year of college. It was rough for the bench, everything else turned out fairly well."
Waugh was outlifted by both Alex Daniels and Curtis Young, who did 31 reps. The frustrating thing for Waugh was he figured he'd have the best numbers hands down.
"38 is my best," said the still-optimistic Waugh. "Getting like 10 reps below that is kind of disappointing. At the same time, it's the best the fullbacks did in the combine. I could go down right now and do 35 just to get my confidence back."
A bruising runner in high school, Waugh played special teams, fullback, defensive line, center, tight end and linebacker at UC. He just wanted to play. Players like Waugh are a peculiar breed--they enjoy bone-crushing contact.
Most of the NFL scouts should know that. Most also know that he's the proverbial "freak" with the weights. What maybe they didn't know is that Waugh can carry his 260-pound load in rapid fashion over 40 yards.
"It was a rough day," said Waugh, still a little miffed over his lifting numbers. "Other than that, out here with the drills and the running, I did really well. 4.71 is what I did (in the 40). That's also the fastest in the combine (for fullbacks). I feel like I did myself some justice here."
His workout reminding me some of Ryan Manalac's from last year. He doesn't drop your jaw as you watch him in his Under Armour, but his numbers are solid across the board. For his efforts, Manalac got some preseason work with the Buffalo Bills. Waugh is hoping for the same and hopefully more.
"Yeah, everything's been encouraging," said Waugh. "I've got a workout with the Bengals. The Carolina Panthers and the Giants have been talking to me as well. It gives me both confidence and hope to make it in the NFL."
Like many Bearcats, Waugh's been working with a number of advisers to attract some NFL attention. Pro offenses feature a lot of unsung fullbacks and Waugh's hoping to become the latest.
"I've been working out with Ignition," Waugh said (same group Connor Barwin and others have trained with). "The guys have really helped me get my speed up. I've lost about 10 pounds so far--it felt good to run a good time."
Truthfully, NFL fullbacks rarely run 40 yards. They're usually bulldozing holes for the tailback to get all of the glory. He got some experience in UC's "jumbo" packages, but was on defense in '09 for the most part.
On occasion, he would also line up as the tight end and he had the good fortune of catching a touchdown pass from Tony Pike in the Sugar Bowl. He's also featured on the cover of the most recent UC Magazine cover with Nick Stone, the young cancer patient whom the Bearcats "adopted". Suddenly, Waugh's a little bit in demand after toiling in the background during his college career.
"Yeah, it was really nice," Waugh said of his Sugar Bowl score. "I think I have a lot to offer for the NFL scouts. Just to get a chance to go to camp is all I want."
Again, who knows?
What is known is that in FRONT of every good tailback is a battering ram that most people never hear about. Nowhere on your fantasy team is there a spot for a fullback.
In REAL football, the Marcus Waughs of the world are invaluable.