March 7, 2013

NFL scouts have to look past injuries at TCU Pro Day

Josh Boyce and Stansly Maponga won’t let foot ailments get in the way of an NFL opportunity.

Stansly Maponga and Josh Boyce arrived at TCU together in the recruiting Class of 2009. The two experienced the thrill of victory in their three seasons playing at TCU as the Horned Frogs went 31-8. Now, with both having decided to forgo their final seasons of eligibility, Maponga and Boyce are experiencing the agony of the feet.

Boyce was on crutches at the Horned Frogs’ Pro Day on Thursday, having had foot surgery earlier this week. Maponga worked out but said afterward that he anticipates surgery on his left foot.

“I just learned today [Boyce] kind of had the same thing, just in a different spot,” Maponga, a defensive end, said.

Nine Horned Frogs worked out for scouts representing 29 teams, including three position coaches. Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler and Miami Dolphins linebackers coach George Edwards were in Fort Worth to watch Maponga work.

Maponga had hoped to forgo surgery on the foot to work out at the NFL Scouting Combine last month, but he was held out because of the injury. Maponga, who initially hurt his foot in the first half of the Baylor game and missed the Texas Tech and Oklahoma State games, will consult Dr. Robert Anderson, the NFL’s go-to foot doctor based in Charlotte, N.C.

“I don’t feel any pain, but word around the league right now is that my bone is kind of soft,” said Maponga, who had surgery on his right foot three years ago. “It might not break right now, but it might break later. … I need to get it taken care of.”

Maponga worked out anyway Thursday, posting times of 4.84 and 4.85 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a 4.37 in the short shuttle and a 7.38 in the three-cone drill. He had a 29 1/2 -inch vertical jump and a 9-foot-6 broad jump.

Though Maponga played defensive end at TCU, replacing legend Jerry Hughes after Hughes was a first-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2010, the 6-foot-2, 251-pound Maponga did some position drills at linebacker for scouts Thursday. He will work out privately for the Atlanta Falcons this weekend.

“We needed to see him run, and we needed to see him do the linebacker drills to see how he would work out doing those drills,” Steelers scout Joe Greene said. “At Pittsburgh, he’ll be too small to play defensive end. We need him as a linebacker. For a defensive end who’s trying to play linebacker, I thought he did pretty good.”

Maponga, who had 22 tackles, including six for loss, 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles last season, could have benefited from another season at TCU. But Maponga said with a 4-month-old daughter, Nysha, and a mom working three jobs, he felt the NFL call. He is expected to be a mid-round choice.

Philadelphia Eagles receivers coach Bob Bicknell and other scouts had hoped to see Boyce work out, but Boyce surprised them by showing up on crutches after surgery Tuesday. Boyce has what is called a “Jones Fracture” — a fracture in the fifth metatarsal of his right foot — that is expected to sideline him 6-10 weeks.

But Boyce fully participated at the combine. He ran one of the fastest times at 4.38.

Boyce, who did not speak to reporters Thursday, still is expected to be a mid-round choice.

“I don’t think the foot will hurt him,” said C.O. Brocato, the Tennessee Titans national director of college scouting. “I think we saw what he can do at the combine, and we have enough tape.”

Running back Matthew Tucker, who also did not speak after his workout, is the other TCU player with draft hopes. Expected to be a late-round choice in April, Tucker ran times of 4.55 and 4.57, had a short shuttle time of 4.44 and a 7.14 in the three-cone.

TCU has had 31 players drafted and sent 65 players to NFL camps in Gary Patterson’s 12 seasons.

Guard Blaize Foltz and receiver Skye Dawson hope to get a shot. Foltz took some snaps at center after running the 40 in 5.38 and 5.33 and bench pressing 225 pounds 33 times. Dawson caught passes from former TCU quarterback Andy Dalton in position drills after running times of 4.39 and 4.40.

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