The NFL Combine began over the weekend and on Monday the defensive linemen and linebackers took their turn being poked, prodded and timed in all sorts of different exercises, including former Illini players Akeem Spence and Michael Buchanan.
While neither of them are considered top players in the draft or get a lot of coverage, Akeem Spence may have raised some eyebrows on Monday while on the bench press.
Akeem did 37 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press Monday, which was the third-most of any defensive linemen at the combine. Only Brandon Williams of Missouri Southern State and Margus Hunt of SMU were able to do more reps, with both players putting the bar up 38 times.
For perspective, I once benched 215 pounds while working out every day as part of a weights program on my high school football team and nearly died after doing that just once.
Akeem lifted 225 pounds 37 times.
And while Akeem was showcasing his strength, Michael Buchanan showed off some of his athleticism. Buchanan's 4.78 forty-yard dash wasn't amazing, though it was faster than Manti Te'o's and good enough to rank ninth amongst all defensive linemen. Also, Michael's 33-inch vertical was tied as the 11th best amongst the d-linemen while his 113-inch broad jump was 13th. So not amazing numbers, but certainly enough to ensure that Michael will be drafted.
The only other Illini player to go through the process was offensive lineman Hugh Thornton. Hugh ran the 40 in 5.11 seconds, which is pretty good for an offensive lineman, but also totally pointless. He also did 27 reps on the bench press, but Hugh's most impressive features were his feet.
Thornton clocked in at 7.45 seconds in the three-cone drill and that was the sixth-best time amongst offensive linemen, while his 4.63 in the 20-yard shuffle was good enough for eighth.
Terry Hawthorne is yet to perform at the combine as defensive backs will go on Tuesday.