Deon King led all 254 Division I football schools in tackling last season, averaging 14.8 per game.
He was Norfolk State’s first consensus Football Championship Subdivision All-American, and the first Spartan to win the Buck Buchanan award, given to the nation’s top FCS defensive player.
But the 6-foot-1, 235 linebacker is taking no chances that the NFL will overlook his resume. He worked out for three hours Wednesday at Old Dominion’s pro day, and was clearly the most impressive prospect on display.
After an ice bath, and a good night’s sleep, he’ll do it all over again on Thursday at William and Mary’s pro day.
“Scouts have told me that I have talent, but they think I’m a little of slow,” he said. “I want to let them know that I’m fast, can move around, that I’m athletic.”
Mission accomplished. King ran a 4.6 40 and looked quick and athletic in a variety of agility drills and individual workouts.
Only three NFL scouts — from Dallas, Kansas City and Washington — participated. That’s down from the 16 who watched quarterback Taylor Heinicke and wide receivers Larry Pinkard and Antonio Vaughan work out a year ago. It was the smallest turnout ODU has ever had at a pro day.
That’s not surprising, given that ODU’s senior class this past season was among its smallest ever. ODU had nine seniors, and safety Fellonte Misher, offensive guard Tyler Burns, linebacker Malique Johnson and defensive end Poncho Barnwell were the only ones who chose to work out.
Burns is one of ODU’s most intriguing seniors because of his size. The Norwalk, Calif. native, who transferred to ODU from junior college, is 6-foot-6 and 380 pounds. That’s down from the 395 pounds he carried last season.
He was one of the nation’s largest offensive lineman, so big that one American Sports Network broadcaster declared “he’s big enough to blot out the sun.”
“Tyler’s size alone is likely to attract some attention,” ODU coach Bobby Wilder said.
So might his strength — he benched pressed 225 pounds 28 times.
Burns graduated from ODU in December and is living in Clemson, S.C. with his fiancee, Taylor Hooker. He’s been working out at a Gold’s Gym in Clemson.
He dropped 15 pounds, he said, “by eating better and just working hard.”
“I’m hoping to turn a head or two today,” he added.
Barnwell, also a junior college transfer, added a pass rusher to ODU’s defense that had been missing. Yet, at 6-4, 270, he’s a little small for an NFL defensive lineman.
“Anything is possible,” he said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I just want do my best and have some fun with it.”
Johnson, a senior from Annapolis, tried out as a safety on Wednesday, and said it didn’t matter that just three scouts were there.
“All you need is one team that likes you and you’re good to go,” he said.
Misher, ODU’s second-leading career tackler, was also impressive during one-on-one agility drills.
“I did my best,” he said. “We’ll see what I hear.”
King said if given a true chance, he’ll make it in the NFL.
“I feel like I did well today,” he said. “I ran fast and moved my feet well.
“I can play with anybody.”