NFL: Auburn’s Tate lets NFL combine numbers stand
By JOHN ZENOR
AP Sports Writer
AUBURN, Ala. — Ben Tate spent most of Auburn’s pro day watching, relaxing and trying to stay loose.
The running back was content to let his numbers from the NFL combine stand, and why not? Tate, whose strong senior season was overshadowed by Alabama’s Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, turned in some of the better stats among running backs at the combine in Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago.
“I think a lot of people were surprised, a lot of the scouts and a lot of you guys in the media,” Tate said Tuesday. “But I knew what I could do the whole time. I’ve been telling y’all I was fast, but no one really wanted to listen to me. My coaches knew, and my family knew.”
Now the NFL scouts do, too. Tate turned in the third-fastest 40-yard time (4.43 seconds) among running backs, behind C.J. Spiller and Jahvid Best.
He was second in the vertical leap, broad jump and 20-yard shuttle run. His 26 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press tied for tops with Lonyae Miller.
The solid performance allowed Tate to participate only in position drills at the end of pro day, working with St. Louis Rams running backs coach Sylvester Croom and catching passes from Chris Todd. He said he never considered skipping Auburn’s pro day “because the coaches still want to see you compete.”
Other players working out for pro scouts on Tuesday included defensive end/linebacker Antonio Coleman, cornerback Walt McFadden and quarterback Chris Todd. Coleman was the only other Auburn player invited to the combine.
“When you work as hard as I’ve been working, just to go in and do well at the combine, that makes pro day a little bit easier,” Tate said. “I can sit back and watch those other guys doing those drills. I was even recording some of them. I had fun at the beginning but toward the end I had to start getting focused because it was my time doing positio in the Outback Bowl.
“I lost some of that fat from the bowl game,” Tate said. “I pigged out down there and got to the dle-rounds NFL pick, but he preferred not to say what kind of feedback he has been getting or what teams he has already set up meetings with.
Tate’s strong senior year and combine performance can’t hurt, though.
“My junior year was a horrible year, and I came in and worked hard this past year and all the hard work has been paying off,” he said. “I had a great combine and today I did a great job. I can’t really complain. The only thing I can control is what I can do and throughout the process so far I think I’ve done pretty well.”