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March 5, 2009

Looking for a chance

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Having to prove himself is nothing new to Tommy Saunders. The former Tiger receiver remembers his grandfather having to plead his case to Andy Hill for a scholarship at Missouri. Initially, the grant did not come. But early in his career, Saunders earned the full ride. Five years later, he finished as one of the ten most prolific pass-catchers in Missouri history.

On Thursday afternoon, Saunders was back at square one, trying to prove himself all over again. The audience this time was a collection of scouts from about half of the NFL teams at Missouri's first pro day for players hoping to continue their football careers.

"I'm not really expecting anything," Saunders said. "I know that when it's all said and done, I'm going to be with one team and I'm going to get a shot regardless of how I get there whatever it is. I'm going to make the most of my opportunity whenever I get it."

That was the general feel at Missouri's first pro day. Jeremy Maclin and Chase Daniel chose not to work out until March 19th for the scouts. Chase Coffman laid out due to an injury. So the vast majority of Tigers performing on Thursday were those that are no sure bets to be drafted in April.

"That's everybody's goal, but that's kind of out of my hands right now," Brock Christopher said. "I'm just trying to go out and perform and do what I can do. If my name gets called, great. If it doesn't, hopefully I'll get picked up by somebody and go there and impress them."

"I'm just going to take one day at a time," Colin Brown agreed. "I don't really know what to expect. If I get drafted, I get drafted. If I don't, hopefully I'll get a chance."

Of this group of Tigers, Saunders may have helped himself the most. He drew oohs and aahs with a one-handed grab along the left sideline (to which one current Tiger said, "So what? Tommy does that all the time). He received congratulations after laying out to catch a deep pass and hauling the ball into his chest before doing a barrel roll at the goal line. Multiple scouts came by to pat Saunders on the shoulder and congratulate him on a good workout. Other Tigers felt good about the day as well.

"Guys like my longsnapping," Christopher said. "Some guys are talking to me about fitting in a 3-4 in their system, so we'll just wait and see."

"I didn't test out as well as I wanted to at the combine, so I might make a comeback the 19th and run a few more drills," Stryker Sulak said. "They like my motor, but I feel like I need to get a little quicker."

Every former Tiger is looking to improve on something.

"I would love to run faster," Brown said. "But I don't know if it's going to happen."

One Tiger who did run faster-in fact, much faster-was safety William Moore. Moore was clocked at a 4.39 in the 40-yard dash.

"That's what I heard," Moore said. "We'll take that."

Scouts from the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins spent extra time running Moore through individual drills, a clear indication of their interest.

"Hopefully I'll get a few more of those," he said.

At this point, the process is still in the early stages. Players are starting to get some indication of what teams are thinking, but are putting little stock into it so far.

"I don't know when, or if, I am projected, what round or anything like that," Sulak said. "A few coaches will talk to me, a few scouts, but you've got to take that with a grain of salt."

"Not quite yet," Ziggy Hood agreed. "I'm really just working doing my best, trying to stay clean, give it all I've got. I'm just not really trying to believe the hype."

There's more hype to come. The second pro day will include Maclin and Daniel for sure and, if things go as planned, tight end Chase Coffman.

"I plan on it, but we'll just have to play it by ear," Coffman said. "If I'm not able to go, I know, every scout that I've talked to has told me don't try to push it because that's just going to make me look worse and possibly reinjure something. If I can't go, then I can't go and I'll just have to set something else up."

PowerMizzou.com will be on hand on the 19th and will bring Tiger fans complete coverage of that pro day as well.

No one covers the Tigers like PowerMizzou.com. To follow the Tigers year-round, sign up today to start your Free Seven-Day Trial.

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