CB Ross Cockrell holds nothing back at Duke pro day

Mar. 26, 2014 @ 08:25 PM

Having worked five years to change Duke’s football fortunes, all-ACC cornerback Ross Cockrell isn’t taking any shortcuts in his quest for a professional football career.

Even though he posted solid times at last month’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Cockrell was a full participant Wednesday when NFL scouts came to Duke for the school’s pro timing day.

“I think I continue to improve upon what I did at the combine, I think I had my best workout in a long time and there’s no better place to do that then at pro day,” Cockrell said.

The 6-0, 191-pound Cockrell said working for scouts on Duke’s campus, in the Pascal Field House indoor practice facility, was only fitting. It’s the last official football event now that he’s completed his Blue Devil career, where he helped Duke to its first two bowl games since 1994.

“I just wanted to be out here with my teammates,” Cockrell said. “I did have the opportunity to go to the combine but that wasn’t with the guys that I came in here with the guys I did something special with. So I wanted to enjoy that.”

Having redshirted when Duke went 4-8 in 2009 before enduring long Saturdays when the Blue Devils were 3-9 in 2010 and 2011, Cockrell led Duke to six wins and a Belk Bowl appearance in 2012 when he was named first-team all-ACC.

Last season, Cockrell earned all-conference honors again as Duke set a school record for wins while going 10-4, winning the ACC Coastal Division championship and playing in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

NFL prospects who work at the combine often skip running drills at their on-campus pro days to let their times from Indianapolis stand. Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said Cockrell working again on Wednesday showed his character.

“He did everything he was asked to do at the combine and now he’s done everything again today with better numbers than he did at the combine,” Cutcliffe said. “If you’re an NFL team, you should be paying attention to what’s happening with him. Obviously he didn’t go to the combine and then take a break. He continued to work at a high intensity level, so I think he’s helped himself.”

Cockrell is in position to turn around Duke’s football fortunes again in the NFL. When Duke quarterback Sean Renfree was selected in the seventh round by Atlanta last year, he was the first Blue Devils player drafted since Drew Strojny went in the seventh round to Denver in 2004.

Projected to be picked in the middle rounds, Cockrell could be the first Duke player drafted before the seventh round since defensive end Chris Combs went in the sixth round to Pittsburgh in 2000.

Cockrell intercepted 12 passes in his Duke career, which included 49 starts. He learned on the job as a freshman and a sophomore, but Cutcliffe never doubted the tough-minded Cockrell would improve.

“He has no fear,” Cutcliffe said. “I think Ross is making a statement. He’s not just smart. He’s fast. The thing that they can’t find out until they get him in camp is how fierce he is.”

Cockrell worked out along with former Duke teammates Kenny Anunike, Justin Foxx, Brandon Braxton and Juwan Thompson. All were part of Duke’s 10-4 season last fall.

Sean Schroeder, a Duke graduate and former reserve quarterback who finished his college career at Hawaii, also worked out for the two dozen scouts on hand.

The NFL Draft is May 8-10