The annual Miami Hurricanes Pro Timing Day reunion commenced Thursday morning at a chilly Greentree Field and ran well into the afternoon, when the sun beat down on the bare-chested players trying to impress dozens of NFL scouts or coaches.
Former Hurricanes linebacker Sean Spence, now with the Steelers, was there to watch. Former quarterback Jacory Harris helped out by tossing passes to receivers. Defensive end Olivier Vernon, now with the Dolphins, arrived in the afternoon, along with offensive lineman Brandon Washington, Browns receiver Travis Benjamin and Texans linebacker Darryl Sharpton.
They all came to support the former players who ran 40-yard dashes, lifted weights and partook in drills for NFL personnel — which included Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland — representing 30 of 32 teams.
“Overall, it went well,” said 5-10, 184-pound receiver Kendal Thompkins. “I just want to make a team.”
Thompkins improved his status with the best 40 time: 4.37 seconds. He also had the second-highest vertical leap (35 inches) and second-longest broad jump (10-4).
The Miami native said he misses college already. “It’s kind of different now that I’m in the real world,” said Thompkins, who earned his degree in liberal arts last May.
Ray-Ray Armstrong, who missed the 2012 season after being dismissed from Miami in July as the result of a number of missteps, returned to participate. Armstrong, who eventually earned his UM degree in sports administration, said he “could have handled” himself “a lot differently.”
“It was frustrating for the first couple months,” the 6-4, 215-pound safety said, “but I kind of put that behind me and am working on the next step of my life.
“I still have a lot of friends here. We have a tight bond. I feel it’s home still.”
Armstrong’s best 40 time was 4.65. He had a 34.5-inch vertical leap and benched 225 pounds 18 times.
“Football is what I do,” Armstrong said. “I wanted to show them how fluent I was in drills and that I run pretty good times. I’ve been working out a good three, four months preparing for this.”
Fellow safety Vaughn Telemaque, 6-2 and 202 pounds, was his usual cheerful, optimistic self. Though a knee injury limited his playing time this season, Telemaque said he felt great. He led the field with a 36-inch vertical jump, ran a 4.70 40 and only could muster 11 reps on the bench press.
When asked what he could offer to any team that gets him, Telemaque said, “I’m an all-around player, a team player, rangy safety, good stand-up guy trying to do the right things and trying to make sure everyone around me is in a positive attitude because it just brings out the best in everybody, including myself.”
Added Telemaque, refusing to focus on his injury and senior season: “I’m over that. It’s not about this one season. It’s not about who’s here now. It’s about Miami. It’s always going to be a part of me. Miami was the best place for me, and I had a great career here.”
Running back Mike James, who competed at the recent Combine in Indianapolis with Brandon McGee, said he “ran the ball well” and just wanted “to show the teams that I’m versatile and can play ball.”
And, like the others, he said how much it meant to have been a Miami Hurricane.
“It brought me up, helped me become a man,” James said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The current Hurricanes had their fourth and final spring practice session Thursday before spring break. They have 11 sessions left — including scrimmages March 23, April 5 and the spring game April 13. They return for the next session March 19. The Canes celebrated their vacation by doing the Harlem Shake for a video session. Go to the Eye on the U blog at MiamiHerald.com to see the video.