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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 25, 2008

Colt as sharp as can be in passing drills

Photo galleryPhoto gallery: NFL Combine

By Stephen Tsai
HawaiiWarriorBeat.com Editor

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Former Hawai'i slotback Davone Bess, shown with ex-Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, ran a disappointing 4.57-second 40-yard dash, but did well in pass-catching drills. Story on D2.

MICHAEL CONROY | Associated Press

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Colt Brennan

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INDIANAPOLIS Colt Brennan found the perfect way to quell the football critics.

By being perfect.

Brennan, a former University of Hawai'i quarterback and 2007 Heisman Trophy finalist, was credited with 100-percent accuracy during yesterday's passing drills at the National Football League Scouting Combine in the RCA Dome.

Brennan was 20 of 21 in drills ranging from 5-yard outs to streak patterns. The lone incompletion came when Kansas wideout Marcus Henry dropped a chest-high pass. Because that pass was catchable, the scouting report credited it as a completion.

"The two things that I came here to do were to show up heavier and throw well," Brennan said. "I weighed in a lot heavier than people thought, and I threw the ball really well."

There were concerns when Brennan, who was measured here as being 6 feet 2 1/3, weighed 185 pounds at last month's Senior Bowl in Alabama. He blamed the 6-pound loss on a stomach virus. But Brennan was 207 pounds at Friday's official weigh-in session.

During yesterday's drills, held on FieldTurf and coordinated by NFL coaches, Brennan showed his arm strength with two 45-yard completions. The first was an arc on a streak pattern. The second came on a post-corner pattern in which California's DeSean Jackson sprinted 10 yards, ran diagonally to the left for 5 yards, then cut to the right. Brennan lofted a pass that found Jackson's handprints.

After that play, the coaches gave Brennan the job of yelling the "break," essentially making him an honorary captain.

In UH's four-wide offense, Brennan was mostly in the shotgun, aligned 5 yards from the line of scrimmage. Yesterday, he had to simulate taking snaps from the center, then retreating in three-, five- and seven-step dropbacks.

"To use the old cliche," said Brennan, who took snaps from under the center in high school, prep school and the University of Colorado, "it was like riding a bicycle again. It wasn't that difficult."

Indeed. Brennan lasered passes on down-and-out patterns of 5, 7 and 15 yards. He also was true on intermediate passes across the middle.

On one play, he was randomly paired with former UH teammate Davone Bess. The play was a 5-and-out, the Warriors' money play in short-yardage situations the past two years.

"I definitely was smiling when I saw Davone out there," Brennan said.

Bess said: "That's our play."

Brennan completed the pass easily to Bess.

During the 75-minute workout, all but two of Brennan's passes received perfect grades.

Even a relentless critic, football analyst Mike Mayock, softened his stance.

"Coming out of the Senior Bowl, I wasn't impressed," said Mayock, who acknowledged that Brennan reported to the combine in better shape. "He gained 15, 18 pounds, and that was helpful. He's kind of sneaky athletic, and he makes some plays. I want to get the tapes of this and watch them."

Of his performance, Brennan said: "I was really happy. There are so many misconceptions, so many untruths out there, about what I am as a quarterback, and what I can do. It's mostly those Internet sites. Their perception is heard, and it's like 'telephone.' People around the country hear these things and assume them.

"I'm pretty confident the coaches and the general managers the ones who make the decisions do their homework. They know what everything is about."

A solid performance in the passing drills is helpful in improving a prospect's stock, said Jeff Foster, president of the National Invitational Camp (the official name of the combine). Foster said a committee of between six and 15 members decides which players to invite. Foster said Brennan was a unanimous recommendation.

Foster said the most important duty for an invited player is to undergo medical examinations from NFL teams. That is followed by face-to-face interviews with representatives of each team. Foster said 1,900 team officials, including medical staff, attended this combine.

While not mandatory, the NFL prefers that invited players participate in position drills.

The drills "were created and conducted by current NFL coaches," Foster said. "They're no different than what the quarterbacks did at their own colleges when they warmed up every day."

Foster added: "When you're talking about position-specific skills, which are the skill drills, I'd say they're vital."

Two of the top quarterbacks, Matt Ryan of Boston College and Andre Woodson of Kentucky, opted to attend the combine but not participate in drills. Despite having a good practice week at the Senior Bowl he was named a team captain and starter Brennan did not play well in the all-star game. He felt he needed to compete in yesterday's drills to turn the public perception.

Brennan said he studied videos of past combine passing drills. Under the guidance of quarterback tutor Tom Craft, Brennan spent hours working on a variety of throws.

As it turned out, his workouts in California were more demanding than yesterday's drills. The routes were shorter, and the dome provided windless conditions.

"I felt confident," Brennan said. "I wanted more reps and more throws to show everybody I came here to make a statement. Things went well, and I felt I did better than what was expected."

Brennan said the hip pointer, suffered in the Senior Bowl, has not been bothersome. He wore black compression tights to keep his hips and hamstrings warm.

Brennan said he will rest the next two days, then begin training for the April 1 Pro Day in Carson, Calif. His four starting receivers last season Bess, Ryan Grice-Mullins, Jason Rivers and C.J. Hawthorne will participate in the Pro Day.

"If I can take what I did here, and have a great Pro Day, a lot of positive things will start to happen," Brennan said.

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.