March 4, 2014
Former Auburn defensive end Dee Ford bench pressed 225 pounds 29 times (Lauren Barnard)
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. - Dee Ford had a point to make, and he made it in style in front of representatives from all 32 NFL teams at Auburn's Pro Day on Tuesday.
Ford, an All-Southeastern Conference defensive end, helped Auburn's football team to a league championship and a spot in the BCS Championship Game last season. He was the defensive star in the Senior Bowl last month, sparking a rush of projections that he would be a first-round draft choice.
But at the NFL Scouting Combine, Ford got stunning news. He would not be allowed to work out because some doctors were concerned about a back injury he suffered in 2011.
"I was definitely surprised," Ford said. "I had no clue that I wouldn't be able to workout. It kind of knocked my training off a little bit because everything is timed. I got over the hump. I actually worked out that night when I found out I couldn't work out at the Combine."
Ford made up for it Tuesday. He sent a charge through the Auburn weight room when he bench pressed 225 pounds 29 times. He ran the 40 in 4.53, had a 10-4 broad jump and a 35 ½-inch vertical jump.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Ford's back, which was surgically repaired and caused him to miss most of the 2011 season, was not a problem.
"It was never an issue," Malzahn said. "He's done everything we've asked him to do - working out in the weight room and conditioning. He looked very good and performed very well."
Scouts indicated that Ford's status as a probable first-rounder had not been affected and, if anything, had been enhanced.
"After what he did at the Senior Bowl, he really didn't have to do anything else," one scout said.
Ford said he enjoyed himself Tuesday, even when he was doing drills with which he was not familiar.
"I think I did great overall," Ford said. "I was taken out of my comfort zone as far as dropping in space. Now I see things I can work on and more ways I can perfect my game. I'm very excited about the future."
Ford's goal was to hit 30 in the bench press, but he couldn't quite get the weights up after making No. 29. But Ford said he had no complaints.
"It was fun," Ford said. "It was great to be around my teammates. I've missed them. It was fun to be in that environment. That's how we are every day in there.
"I'm very pleased. I put in a lot of work. I'm so excited about the drills that I wasn't able to do before. Those are things I can work on. I'm looking forward to that, and I'm going to be better next time."
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: