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Published: Monday, 3/1/2010

UT receiver Williams makes case at NFL Combine


INDIANAPOLIS - Stephen Williams and Barry Church, products of the University of Toledo football program, were among the 329 former college players in Indianapolis to take part in the NFL Scouting Combine, the annual invitation-only job fair for potential pro prospects entering April's draft. Entering the Combine, Williams was viewed as a possible undrafted free agent, but he may have raised his draft status with an overall good showing yesterday.

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Williams impressed scouts with his natural pass-catching ability during the gauntlet drill, when the receivers run across the field sideline to sideline catching passes at full speed.

The long-striding, rangy receiver posted respectable times in the 40-yard dash, clocking in the mid-4.5 range. Williams finished in the top 10 among receivers with a 10-foot-5-inch broad jump and 6.81 3-cone drill. After his workout, several scouts complimented him on his performance.

Teams such as Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Chicago have expressed an interest in Williams as a possession-type receiver.

Church, a four year all-MAC performer at safety, will have his workout today.

University of Cincinnati standout receiver Mardy Gilyard, who is regarded as one of the top receiving prospects entering the draft, will have to wait until the school's Pro Day to improve his draft status. Gilyard ran unofficial times of 4.56 and 4.62 in the 40-yard dash, failing to address questions about his lack of speed. One problem, perhaps, could be the receiver's technique. Gilyard runs with a side-to-side wiggle in his hips, taking away from his straight-line speed. Gilyard was also limited in training for the event.

According to Gilyard, he experienced some stiffness in his left knee after the Senior Bowl and was scaled back on speed drills during training. As a result, Gilyard was only able to participate in speed drills the last few weeks leading up to the combine. One NFL scout said teams weren't exactly expecting Gilyard to blaze the tracks, calling him more of a gamer than speedster. Lions wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson became a big fan of Gilyard's while coaching him at the Senior Bowl. Jefferson believes Gilyard would make a nice complement receiver to Calvin Johnson.

NOTES: Jacoby Ford, a 5-foot-10 wide receiver from Clemson, turned heads with the fastest recorded time at the Combine with 4.28. Ford is the 60-meter NCAA sprint champion. ... Ford's teammate at Clemson, C.J. Spiller, the consensus top running back in the draft, registered an unofficial 4.27 but ran a 4.37 electronically in the 40-yard dash. ... Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound specimen with a 34 1/2-inch wingspan, opted not to participate in drills due to a balky hamstring.

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