Pro Day disappointment

Pro Day disappointment

From the forced grin on his face it was plain to see: He was not a happy camper.

Former Tennessee football player Gerald Jones, normally bubbly and enthusiastic, struggled to muster a smile following his performance at Friday's Pro Timing Day inside UT's Neyland-Thompson Sports Center. The talented wide receiver did well in the other drills but not the all-important 40-yard dash. His times - 4.68 and 4.73 - were disappointing, and that disappointment was apparent on his face.

Asked how he performed, Jones replied: "I'm my worst critic. You always want to do the best you can. Some things went good and some things went bad."

Asked specifically how his 40 time went, he shrugged.

"Not like I planned it to," he said. "I think, more importantly, my wide-receiver drills saved my life."

Listed by Tennessee at 6-feet even and 195 pounds as a Vol senior, Jones checked out at 5-9 and 6/10s and 197 pounds by pro scouts. He posted a 37.5-inch vertical jump and a 10-foot, 1-inch broad jump - besting all of the ex-Vols tested in each category. Pro scouts covet speed at the receiver position, however, and Jones' 40 times probably got him scratched from some NFL teams' draft boards. He seemed to realize as much.

After noting that he did well in the jumps and shuttle runs, Jones flashed a pained grin as he added: "Everything but quickness - that's pretty where I'm based upon - I did pretty good."

The ex-Vol said he has been training for Pro Day and consistently clocking in "the high 4.4s ... but I was training on a different type of turf. This turf got the best of me today."

Asked how difficult it was to perform with dozens of onlookers watching, Jones shrugged.

"It's not necessarily difficult because we played in front of 100,000 people every Saturday," he said. "It's not difficult. You've just got to stay focused and stay locked in with your inner self."

Conversely, Jones conceded that knowing his NFL bonus money could go up or down thousands of dollars based on his 40 time represented tremendous pressure.

"The biggest pressure is, you only get one shot to make it right," he said. "Normally, it would be two or three times. But here you get one shot, and you've got to make it right."

Even without great speed, Jones managed great production in college. He led Tennessee in catches as a junior (46) and as a senior (55). He was tremendous in the clutch, routinely making big catches on third down to sustain drives. He also got great coaching, having his skills fine-tuned by long-time NFL receivers coach Charlie Baggett last fall.

"He helped my whole knowledge of the game, understanding defenses and things like that," Jones said. "He's coached a lot of great receivers, and he taught me some things they do that work in certain situations, and I added them to my repertoire."

Whether or not Jones gets to exhibit that repertoire at the NFL level remains to be seen. Despite his Pro Day 40 times, he is confident he can help a pro team.

"All I need is one team to like me," he said. "If they can see what I can do on the field, I guarantee I won't let 'em down."

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