Birmingham Banking On Big Day

The Morning News/Razorback Central
Posted Feb 26, 2005


INDIANAPOLIS -- Former Arkansas tailback DeCori Birmingham has a pretty lofty goal for his final day in Indianapolis.

The 5-foot-10, 210-pounder intends to leave town as the fastest running back at the 2005 NFL Combine.

Birmingham will get the chance when he and the likes of Auburn's Ronnie Brown, Texas' Cedric Benson, California's J.J. Arrington and Ohio State's Maurice Clarett step into the RCA Dome to work out for NFL scouts today. Several agility and position specific drills are on the docket for NFL hopefuls this week, but the 40-yard dash stands as the attention-grabbing event during this interview process.

And Birmingham is confident he'll make a solid impression with his time.

"You want to have some strength in the 40 and I really feel like I'm going to do great in that," Birmingham said. "I've been working on it the last month or so. I'm ready to go out there and run because I like running.

"I'm going to set the mark for these guys. I'm going to try to get out there and run a (4.3-second 40) and just let them know this kid has speed."

Birmingham believes a blazing run will boost his draft prospects in a talented running back's class that also includes Auburn's Carnell Williams, Florida's Ciatrick Fason and Wisconsin's Anthony Davis. Birmingham, who has proven his versatility after playing running back, receiver, punt returner and kick returner at Arkansas, will get two attempts at the 40 this afternoon.

Birmingham said he ran the 40 in 4.38 seconds as a freshman on the old artificial surface in the Walker Indoor Pavilion.

It's a similar surface that is in the RCA Dome, home of the Indianapolis Colts.

"(The fastest time) would be huge for him," said former NFL running back and Green Bay scout Alonzo Highsmith. "That would be big."

Birmingham got a chance to relax and prepare for today's workout after a light day at the combine Friday.

His schedule began with the Wonderlic Test, which is designed to evaluate an athlete's psychological makeup. He also waded through a few interviews with NFL teams before getting most of the afternoon off.

On Thursday, Birmingham weighed 10 pounds heavier than his listed weight at Arkansas and impressed scouts, including Highsmith, with his unexpected size. Birmingham, who is making his case as a player capable of being an every-down back in the NFL, also bench pressed 225 pounds 15 times.

Now, he hopes the fastest time in the 40 will leave one last impression.

"I'm determined to be the fastest running back in the draft this year," he said.

Saban's Combine Debut
Former LSU head coach Nick Saban, who accepted the same position with the Miami Dolphins in December, addressed the media at the combine Friday and said he is very "comfortable and confident" in his new job.

Saban, who coached the Tigers for five seasons and led them to a share of the 2003 national championship, has an extensive background in the NFL. He worked in professional football for six seasons, including four as defensive coordinator under former Cleveland Browns and current New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

"I really learned about the systematic approach he used there," Saban said of Belichick, who has led the Patriots to Super Bowl championships in three of the past four seasons. "Bill had a tremendous impact and influence on me as a coach and I really took that back to college. We had a pro-style system in college."

Saban said his experience in the Southeastern Conference can come in handy as the Dolphins prepare for the 2005 NFL Draft. Miami owns the second pick.

"Having competed against those guys for the past few years is probably somewhat of an advantage to have an idea of what kind of players they are, what kind of people they are," Saban said. "Knowing the (SEC) coaches is also an advantage.

"You know a lot about a guy if you recruited him in high school even if he didn't come to your school. You know a lot about his background, which is helpful."

Quotable
"What do I drive? Right now, I drive a rental car."

-- Auburn running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams when asked about his vehicle of choice and the prospects of signing an endorsement deal with Cadillac. Williams, a projected top-10 pick, currently drives a Suburban loaned to him by his agent.


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