March 11, 2011
Written by Cassie Folck
Purdue Sports Information
Each Purdue football player has taken a different path, but all of their paths end at the same goal: to carry on the Purdue legacy in the NFL.
There have been many steps before this one, but on Friday, players including Ryan Kerrigan and Keith Smith, continued to make names for themselves at Purdue's Pro Day. Scouts from over a dozen teams arrived in West Lafayette to watch the senior players lift weights, jump, run, catch and show off their agility.
For Kerrigan, it was a chance to even further bolster his stock. He is projected to go in the first round by many NFL pundits. He is also being filmed by nfl.com for the "Everything to Prove" series, and will be featured later on the season. For Smith and Jason Werner, it was a chance to prove that past injuries would not affect the future. And for Kyle Adams, it was an opportunity to keep his name in teams' discussions.
"For most teams, I'm anywhere between a sixth-rounder to a free agent," Adams said on his projection. "A few teams even had me in the fifth round. I think a lot of teams are really concerned about my athleticism, so hopefully today I showed them I am athletic."
Purdue's Pro Day has allowed these four players, plus another eight, showcase their hard work since the offseason began. Adams attended D1 Sports in Tennessee for two to three months and competed in the East-West Shrine game.
Werner went to St. Vincent Sports Performance and trained with other athletes from around the country for seven weeks to get ready for Pro Day. Kerrigan participated in the Senior Bowl, worked out with other players in Orange County, Calif., and showed off his skills at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
As for Smith, three weeks ago he wasn't sure whether he would be donning the gold and black for another year or would be trying out for the NFL after tearing his ACL on Sept. 11, 2010. When the news came on Feb. 28 that he wouldn't be coming back to play for the Boilermakers, he luckily didn't have to change his workouts much.
"We planned my workout routine on the case if I didn't get (my sixth year of eligibility)," Smith said, whose knee he says is at about 90 percent. "I've been doing a lot of running, a lot of catching and different position drills with that."
Smith has had help in the process of moving beyond college ball into the pros from former Purdue tight end Dustin Keller, who currently plays for the New York Jets. Mike Neal, who graduated from Purdue in 2010 and was a second round pick by the future Super Bowl-winning Green Bay Packers, has helped shed light on the process for Kerrigan as well.
All four players said they would be with family and friends on Draft Day, but most weren't sure where they would be. But one thing Kerrigan was sure of was the expectations he has for himself when he is drafted to his new team.
"I just want to be somebody that goes in, plays right away, makes an impact on the team and contributes to winning for our team," Kerrigan said.
Purdue has been a stepping stone for many players into the NFL. Smith recognized the legacy of Purdue that he and his teammates will carry on with them after they move on to their new teams.
"You always want to bring your alma mater with you, so with Kerrigan going this year, definitely in the first round, and with myself and couple other teammates, we want to keep that tradition going with every year someone going out and continuing that force of Purdue in the NFL."