Tidbits from Combine in Indianapolis


Cal RB Jahvid Best spent a great deal of time answering questions about his concussion. Best met with the media at Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is part of HoustonTexans.com's 2010 Path to the Draft presented by FOX Sports Houston.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – 'Tebowmania' took over the press room Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine and the bulk of the skill position players came through and talked to the media.

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow spoke with the media in the mid-afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium, drawing all but a handful of reporters around his podium. The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner answered questions for approximately 20 minutes and will start going through drills and tests Saturday and Sunday.

We focused heavily on speaking to as many running backs as we could, and also heard from Texas wide receiver Jordan Shipley.

Best man: Cal running back Jahvid Best is at the Combine and trying to ease doubts about his durability. In early November, he was flipped on his head while scoring a touchdown against Oregon State. He suffered a concussion from the fall, and was asked about it during the majority of his time at the podium this afternoon.

A 2009 preseason Heisman candidate, Best scored 16 touchdowns last season for the Golden Bears. His speed and ability to change speed is impressive, and some analysts think he could get into the first round if he gets a clean bill of health and performs well this weekend in Indianapolis.

"There's obviously a lot of concern about it and we went to the best to get some answers," Best said of his November concussion. "We went to (Dr.) Mickey Collins in Pittsburgh and I've seen him twice and he cleared me. He's known as the best, so his words mean a lot. Any other concussion I get in the future would have nothing to do with the one I had in the past."

We huddled with Best one-on-one and will have that interview up in the coming days.

Pony power?: Shawnbrey McNeal gained 1,188 yards and scored 12 touchdowns as a running back for SMU in the Run-n-Shoot offense. In fact, he was the first ball-carrier to ever gain more than 1,000 yards under head coach June Jones.

McNeal played his high school ball at Madison in Dallas, went to Miami for college, and then left the Hurricanes for Southern Methodist to be closer to home. He came back to Texas, for the same reason he left early for the Draft, and explained why.

"My mom," McNeal said. "I almost lost my mom a week before the season started. Seeing my mom sit there and suffer on a hospital bed, with tubes going in and out of her, and actually knowing what she's going through because she's a diabetic. I'm the only person she calls to when she needs anything."

McNeal is one of a few juniors who received invitations to come to Indianapolis, and some have him projected to be drafted as high as the third round.

Jordan rules: Texas receiver Jordan Shipley finished 2009 with nearly 1,500 yards receiving and 116 catches, 13 of which were for touchdowns. He was quarterback Colt McCoy's go-to guy and is looking to latch on at the next level.

Shipley also excelled in the return game, and would relish the chance to continue doing so in the NFL.

"That's one of my favorite parts of football: getting to do punt returns and kickoff returns," Shipley said. "I've loved it since I was a kid. I'm excited about the opportunity, and hopefully I'll get a chance to return some punts and kicks."

Shipley, who received a medical redshirt and is now 24 years old, lined up in a variety of spots as a receiver in the Longhorn offense over the last four years.

"I played all over the place. I played Z and B, which is kind of our outside receiver my first couple years. I even played our flex tight end. I played half the year this year at X," Shipley said.

Trojan horses: Southern Cal running backs Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson are both taking part in the combine, and both met with the media today.

McKnight entered school as the nation's number one recruit in 2007, and played immediately as a true freshman. He gained 1,064 yards this season, and averaged 6.2 yards per carry, and decided to exit the college ranks early and skip his senior season.

He didn't like being compared to Reggie Bush when he arrived at USC, and avoided comparing himself to any other running backs today when asked about the subject. He said he just wants to be his own person, and also talked about his goals for the weekend in Indianapolis.

"Hopefully I'll get a chance to be a first day guy but if I don't, hopefully I'll just get off the board and get a chance to be on somebody's team," McKnight said.

Johnson, meanwhile, nearly died in a September weightlifting accident, when he dropped the bar while bench pressing 275 pounds. It was a long recovery, as he wasn't able to eat solid foods until November. But he played in the Senior Bowl, is taking part in the Combine, and treats each new day as a treat.

"It kind of just helps you to live every day to the fullest and make sure you maximize all your opportunities," Johnson said Friday. "It helps me to not take anything for granted. It lets you know that anything can happen on any given day."

Before he was injured, Johnson scored five touchdowns in four games last September, and averaged 4.9 yards per carry. In 2008, he scored nine touchdowns and averaged 5.1 yards per carry, gaining a career-best 705 yards.

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