March 30, 2011
CONWAY - Scouts from 18 National Football League teams were on Coastal Carolina's campus Tuesday morning to evaluate 22 student-athletes, including 11 Chanticleers.
Participating in the workout for Coastal were Robert Balkunas, Danny Bonifas, Keon Cunningham, Dominique Davenport, Racheed Gause, Zach MacDowall, Eric O'Neal, Seth Smalls, Chris Walls, Brandon Whitley and Marquel Willis. Others to attend were players from Newberry, Benedict, Mars Hill, Wofford, Furman and Charleston Southern.
The record number of scouts represented the Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, New York Giants, Tennessee Titans, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers. Also in attendance was a scout from the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.
The day started in Adkins Field House with the NFL hopefuls getting sized, height and weight, as well as wing span, hand size and arm length.
From there, the group was split; half doing the vertical jump and the other doing the standing broad jump before the groups swapped drills. The best vertical jump of the day was 35.5 inches, turned in by Newberry's Philip Ashley. Wofford's Tommy Irvin was second at 35 and Newberry's Kamaal McIlwain was third (34.5). Walls had the best vertical among the Chants at 33 inches. In the broad jump, Newberry Ron Parker led the way at 10-2.5, followed closely by Mars Hill wide receiver and North Myrtle Beach native P.J. Gore at 10-2. Leading the way for Coastal was Walls at 10-1.
The group moved over to the bench press racks to see how many times repetitions they could get at the standard weight of 225 pounds. Chanticleer defensive lineman Balkunas pushed up the weight 43 times, easily the best of the day and ranking among the top 15 of anyone in the nation.
As a comparison, here are the top bench-press results at the NFL combine since 2000 (note, does not include individual workouts of pro days other schools conduct): Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State (2011): 49 Michael Petrus, G, Arkansas (2010): 45 Mike Kudla, DE, Ohio State (2006): 45 Leif Larsen, DT, Texas-El Paso (2000): 45 Jeff Owens, DT, Georgia (2010): 44 Brodrick Bunkley, DT, Florida State (2006): 44 Scott Young, G, BYU (2005): 43 Tank Tyler, DT, North Carolina State (2007): 42 Isaac Sopoaga, DT, Hawaii (2004): 42
The next closest to Balkunas' 43 was Wofford's offensive lineman Pat Illig at 26 times. Gause reached 20 reps and Eric O'Neal 18.
The group made the move to Watson Stadium - the Chanticleers' baseball home - to take advantage of the artificial turf surrounding the playing field to run the 40-yard dash, the 20-yards shuttle, the 60-yard shuttle and the three-cone drill.
Newberry's Ron Parker turned in the best 40-yard dash at 4.36 while Cunningham had CCU's best time at 4.52. Furman's Adam Mims was tops in the 20-yard shuttle at 4.16, the 60-yards shuttle at 11.21 and the three-cone drill ay 6.73. For Coastal Walls completed the 20-yards shuttle in 4.20 and O'Neal in 4.25. For the 60-yard shuttle, Coastal was led by Whitley's 11.56. Last, in the three-cone drill, CCU was paced by Davenport's 6.72, Whitley's 6.77 and O'Neal's 6.93.
The day concluded at Brooks Stadium, with scouts working out the players by groups starting with the defensive backs and lineman. MacDowall, the running backs and receivers showcased their skills and Bonifas concluded the day showing his long-snapping abilities.