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Former Pitt players put talent on display for scouts

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cornerback Buddy Jackson started one game and never intercepted a pass in four seasons at Pitt, but none of that mattered Monday when he was the star of the show.

Jackson showed off his unique athleticism to NFL scouts, running a 40-yard dash that he said was in the 4.3-second range and recording a broad jump of 11 feet, 9 inches, during Pitt's pro day at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex.

"God has blessed me with a lot of talent," said Jackson, who was one of 12 former Pitt players who worked out in hopes of landing a job in the NFL. "I just need to stay humble and understand the process isn't over."

Scouts did not tell players how fast they ran or how far they jumped, but Jackson said he looked over a few shoulders and saw most of his 40 times were between 4.31-4.37.

"I heard a team had me down for 4.26," he said.

Jackson, who bulked up to 187 pounds from a 2011 playing weight of 177, was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine last month, but his 40 time would have been one of the best there. Central Florida cornerback Josh Robinson recorded the fastest time (4.33).

In the broad jump, Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill was No. 1 (11-1), but Jackson's jump yesterday might have been an all-time record. Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Jerome Simpson, who leaped over a defender to score a touchdown last season, jumped 11-4 at the Combine in 2008.

Jackson played extensively in Pitt's nickel pass defenses last season and was one of its best special teams players. He returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown against Utah and was a consistent force on punt coverage, helping the Panthers finish 18th in the nation (4.72 yards per return).

Defensive lineman Chas Alecxih and outside linebacker Brandon Lindsey of Aliquippa took advantage of their second chances, improving their performances from the Combine.

Alecxih said he caught a stomach virus at the Combine, forcing roommate Devon Still of Penn State out of the room so he wouldn't catch it. Alecxih worked out, anyway, and ran a 5.41.

"I wanted to show I could compete," he said. Yesterday, he said he improved to 5.09 at 6-4, 292.

"I feel like I showed a lot more of what I can do today," he said.

Lindsey said he improved his 40 time two-tenths of a second to 4.7 at 245 pounds after showing up at the Combine at 255.

Linebacker Max Gruder, who trained in Florida with Jackson and Alecxih, said he set personal records in many of his jumps and agility drills at 6-1, 236.

He didn't know what he ran in the 40, pointing out that the process was "stressful."

"You train eight weeks for four seconds of work," he said.

Other Pitt players who worked out were running back Zach Brown, defensive lineman Myles Caragein, offensive linemen Lucas Nix and Greg Gaskins, defensive back Saheed Imoru, cornerback Antwuan Reed and linebackers Tristan Roberts and Greg Williams.

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