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Published: Wednesday, 3/17/2010

UT's Church, Williams confident at pro day

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Former UT safety Barry Church, right, performs a drill under the direction of Mike Gillhammer, secondary coach for the Carolina Panthers, at Fetterman Training Center.
Former UT safety Barry Church, right, performs a drill under the direction of Mike Gillhammer, secondary coach for the Carolina Panthers, at Fetterman Training Center.
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With some questions still hanging over their heads, former University of Toledo football players and NFL prospects Barry Church and Stephen Williams were enthused after their auditions at the school's pro day yesterday at the Fetterman Training Center.

More than a dozen NFL scouts were in attendance to monitor and conduct several drills and training exercises with nine former Rockets and five other players from area colleges.

Of the 14 NFL hopefuls, Church and Williams, along with Tiffin running back Chris Ivory, drew the most looks from scouts.

Ivory, listed at 6-foot, 225 pounds, ran the fastest time of the day in the 40-yard dash, clocking in unofficially at 4.44 seconds.

Church's best unofficial time in the 40 was 4.62, which was an improvement over the 4.71 clocking he ran at last month's NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Church also ran through more than a half dozen position-specific workouts.

"I think everything went real well today," said Church, who is projected as a safety at the next level. "I think I did real well in the defensive back drills. I was catching the ball good and all my breaks were on point, so I definitely I think I did really good today."

Williams, an attractive option to NFL talent evaluators at receiver because of his 6-foot-4 height, ran a 4.53 in the 40 at the NFL combine and ranked second among all receivers in Indianapolis with a 10-foot, 5-inch broad jump.

Williams did not go through any timing drills yesterday and fought through some early drops during his position workouts with former UT quarterback Aaron Opelt before closing strong.

"For me and Aaron not being there with each other for the last few months and then just coming back a couple days before our pro day, we just had to shake off the rust," Williams said. "After that, you could just tell we caught our momentum again."

The main knock on Williams at the NFL combine was his route-running ability, and Williams felt like he addressed those concerns yesterday.

"It went real good," he said. "I got to showcase my skills, especially my route running and coming in and out of my breaks and running full spread through them. [The scouts] said they were very impressed with my improvement."

Both Church and Williams said they hoped to be selected in the NFL Draft on April 22-24 and added the last few months of training, meetings, workouts, film studies, interviews and tests has been a "whirlwind."

Williams compared the experience at the NFL combine to a "circus," while Church admitted he's happy the process of pursuing his pro football aspirations is finally drawing to a close.

"I'm just ready to put a uniform back on and play," Williams said.

Contact Zach Silka at:

zsilka@theblade.com

or 419-724-6084.



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