KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee held its annual NFL Pro Day as all 32 teams were in Knoxville to get a first-hand look at UT's prospects.
PALARDY STAYING VERSATILE
Former Volunteer do-it-all kicker, Michael Palardy, participated in Tennessee's pro day in an effort to try and showcase the reasons NFL teams should take a chance on him.
As a senior, Palardy converted 14 of his 17 attempted field goals and averaged 44.5 yards per punt. Wednesday, he tried to display his versatility by performing kickoffs, punts, and field goals in front of NFL scouts.
"I was hitting the ball well and hitting it with confidence," said Palardy. "That was kind of the biggest thing going into today was showing the ability that I can do all three and then I'll let someone choose and decide what is the best fit for me and for them personally on the team."
Palardy said that most teams view him as a punter but that it was important for him to show that he's a skilled kicker all around.
"I wanted to come out here and show that I have hopefully an NFL leg and the ability to do all three in case of an emergency situation," he said.?
FINAL MOMENTS AS AN ACTIVE VOLUNTEER
"This is our last hour of being a Vol."
These were some of the first words defensive lineman Jacques Smith told media at Tennessee's annual NFL Pro Day.
Sentimental, but prepared was the attitude Smith was sporting today.
"This completes the process of college football for us; we're heading to a new phase. It's a blessing but it's strange at the same time. These four years went by so fast and I enjoyed my time here giving my all for Tennessee."
While giving his all came easier for Tennessee, this transition for Smith hasn't been without its uncertainties.
"This whole process has been kind of a wonder and a question mark. There is a point that all those questions are answered, May 8. But I'm just going to keep working and doing what coach Jones and all my Tennessee coaches taught me and you can't worry about the results if I'm working and giving my best effort I'd say I have a pretty good shot."
Smith has every intention of making his alma mater proud though in addition to his new home, wherever it may be.
"There's a next phase you go into when you're going into your rookie career and that's just seeing which team you're going to be associated with and whoever that is I want to prove to them that I'm worthy enough to be on the field."
'SLIMMER' McCULLERS READY FOR NEXT STEP
An intimidating presence during his two seasons on Rocky Top, Daniel McCullers is ready to take the next step into the NFL. He is currently listed as one of the Top 5 defensive tackle prospects according to Mike Mayock of NFL Network.
"I feel like I did a good job overall," McCullers said about his time on Rocky Top. "I love my experience at Tennessee. It was a great two years of my life (with) two great coaching staffs. I enjoyed every moment of it."
McCullers stepped onto the indoor turf field of the Neyland-Thompson Center at a slim 348 pounds, 33 pounds lighter than when he first arrived in Knoxville. McCullers realizes the amount of hard work that has been put in during his time as a Vol, but there is also a lot more to work on.
"I feel like I still have potential in me," said McCullers. "I'm still a raw talent, technique-wise. I'm going to continue to work. I know I've got a lot more to improve on.
"(NFL teams) like my physicality, but they tell me to work on my leverage," continued McCullers. "That's the biggest thing. If I do that, I feel like I can be a pretty good player. I'm just going to continue to work on my hips, work on my leverage down low."
After his performance at UT's NFL Pro Day, McCullers is that much closer to fulfilling his dream of playing in the National Football League.
"All I ever wanted to do was play NFL football," said McCullers. "I'm getting closer. Hopefully my name will be called. I'm just going to continue to wait, continue to train."
VFLs KNOW UT IS IN GOOD HANDS
As the 14 Vols took part in their last active event as members of the Tennessee football program at Pro Day, they are confident the program is on the upswing. Many of these Vols battled through difficult times and coaching transitions while on Rocky Top. But with Butch Jones at the helm of the Vols, the future is bright.
"I am very confident," said Corey Miller. "I tell all the guys, 'you come in here and you got Butch out on the microphone yelling at you bring all the energy' it's the most excited I've seen our team since I've been here."
Miller feels his one season under Jones has helped him get ready for life after college.
"The difference between playing under Coach Jones, and preparing for your future, playing under Coach Jones you are going to do exactly what's expected of you," said Miller. "You are going to get the job done because that's what you are here to do, along with getting a college degree."
LINEBACKER DONTAVIS SAPP
»(On all NFL teams represented at Pro Day)
"I look at it as an opportunity. We have a great O-Line with draftable guys. I knew every team was going to be here. I felt like it was my opportunity to come out here and show these 32 teams what I can do."
»(On how important today is)
"Today is big. It is the first showcase you have the teams before they bring you in for private workouts. You have to catch the attention of these guys so they do call you in."
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN JACQUES SMITH
»(On how he feels)
"I feel really good. My body is right where I need to be. I was more fast and more explosive than I was over my entire career here. I could work on my speed a bit more which I'll do through my flexibility. There are things and tendencies you have to work on to fix those tweaks this is a new body and this is a new machine I'm creating, I've got to take care of it.
» (On showing what he can do)
"Whatever a team's needs are that's what I'm trying to be for them, whether it's an outside linebacker, a defensive end, it’s a rush specialist or a special-teamist. I want to do it."
PUNTER/PLACEKICKER MICHAEL PALARDY
»(On expectations for the draft)
"There may be two guys per year that get drafted. Most guys go through free agency. That is just realistic stand point. If someone wants to draft me, then it looks great on paper. I know that if I don't get drafted then it isn't the end of the world. It takes some guys two or three years to get in the NFL. Whatever route I have to take to get my shot is what I will do."
»(On what role teams want him to play)
"My main focus is punting and kickoffs. I wanted to show that I could do field goals. The teams can choose what the best fit is for them. Most teams are looking at me as a punter."
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN ALEX BULLARD
»(On attending Titans predraft)
"It was a good experience. We did some drills and meet with the coaches and staff. It was a lot of fun because I saw a bunch of guys I played with in high school because it was a local draft. It was fun."
"They say they like the way I play and my temperament. They like the way I finish. I obviously need to work on some things. I am just ready to go play at the next level."
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN ANTONIO RICHARDSON
»(On what you showed the scouts today)
"I tried to show them that I was healthy because people were saying that I'm not healthy, his knees are hurting, so the stuff like the vertical jump and broad jump shows that I'm explosive, like I said, the 9'4" broad would've been the second best at the combine, the 31" vertical would've been the second or third best at the combine so it's showing that I got my explosiveness back, I'm getting healthy, and I'm just getting healthier and healthier week by week and wherever I go, I'm going to compete and try to get me a spot."
»(On what he participated in today)
"I did everything except for the 40 and the bench press. I think I didn't do anything but help myself today. I showed how athletic I was. I had a vertical jump of 31". I broad jumped a 9'4" which would've been like the second best at the combine so I think I've shown that I'm healthy. People talk about my knee issues, I'm fine."
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN JA’WUAN JAMES
»(On moving on from Tennessee)
"It’s bittersweet coming out here and watching these guys do spring practice. You are not a part of a team right now. You miss the meetings and the guys, but definitely excited about the next chapter of my life. Figuring out where I'm going to be, where I'm going to live. And where I can go compete and hopefully get a job."
»(On the importance of playing left tackle)
"It's very important. They want you to be versatile. They only travel seven guys. And you want to be a part of those that dress. So I feel like I can play anywhere on the line knowledge wise and I haven't been able to play inside physically, but I feel like if I jump in there, I'll get used to it."
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)