Debniak's versatility impressed at Pro Day
Much like the program's success on the field, consistently impressive showings at Stanford Pro Days are becoming commonplace. Scouts from the entire NFL crowded The Farm again for what has become an annual occurrence.
It's been less than a decade since Stanford football suffered a
humiliating home loss to UC Davis, and that's tough to fathom. Not
under Thursday's brilliant sunshine, at least, when scouts from all
32 NFL teams overwhelmed the check-in table for 2013 Pro Day on The
Farm. They all hoarded to evaluate the fruits of a program that --
not long ago -- struggled to eek out one win over the course of an
Memories of past struggles are now melting in the heat of success,
but lavish attention from football's highest level still carries a
surreal aura with it onto Stanford's campus, especially since Andrew Luck isn't around anymore. Unlike last season, when No. 12's final
spectacle on The Farm made the event, Thursday saw Stanford's
emergence as a factory of physically imposing football talent
generate the hoopla.
"My job was to create the physically dominating roster that coach
Harbaugh wanted," says strength and conditioning coach Shannon
Turley, the man at the forefront of the Cardinal's muscular
transformation of the past half decade.
He's done well. The latest opportunity to revel in that success came
Thursday, when twelve former Stanford players, most from the
school's heralded 2009 recruiting crop, culminated their college
development with impressive showings at 2013 Pro Day.
It's a testament to the Farm Boys' physical depth that perhaps the
day's most impressive performance came from one of the session's
less heralded players. Linebacker Alex Debniak worked out on both
sides of the football to showcase his versatility, and scouts were
treated to a freakish combination of athleticism and physicality.
Debniak's team-leading 10-foot, 3-inch broad jump will excite the
NFL about Stanford's secret specimen, a guy who wasn't the center of
attention during his college career.
Ever the perfectionist, Debniak was disappointed in his 40-yard dash
showing. Perspective is important here: If someone said six years
ago that a muscle-laden, back-up Stanford linebacker would be upset
after sprinting a 4.65, they'd be considered nuts.
A full list of Thursday's results is here.
The numbers show consistent improvement across the board. Zach Ertz,
Stepfan Taylor, and Chase Thomas all bettered their NFL Combine
40-yard dash results: Ertz's low 4.6 surpassed Notre Dame rival
Tyler Eifert's 4.68, Taylor's similar time erased a poor Combine
showing that was run on a bad ankle, and Thomas' 4.78 mark bettered
his earlier performance.
Special teams enjoyed time in the limelight, too. Looking back to
this past season, Stanford couldn't have upset Oregon at Autzen
Stadium without the stellar punting efforts of Daniel Zychlinski,
and he, too, made a strong statement, booting a number of punts
upwards of 50 yards with excellent directional control.
Zychlinksi's day provided an excellent reminder of Stanford's 2012
Rose Bowl success, a memorable season attained through the sum of
several superb efforts. It was only fitting, then, that Ertz's focus
leaving the field wasn't on his own solid performance, but rather on
other components expected to drive the Cardinal's future success --
pieces that will one day enjoy a Pro Day full of NFL scouts, too.
"Look out for Jordan Richards," Ertz said without being asked. "He's
the best safety that I've ever played against. That defense is going
to be nasty next year."
A striking mentality has been ingrained at Stanford, one that's
constantly zeroed in on the next opportunity for success. It's
generated a workmanlike attitude that isn't new anymore, much like
the hoard of NFL scouts that converges on The Farm to witness its
David Lombardi is the Stanford
Insider for The Bootleg and FOX Sports Next. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com.
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