February 28, 2008

BOL exclusive: Gilberry talks combine

In a little less than two weeks, Wallace Gilberry gets a do-over.

The Alabama senior from Bay Minette wouldn't trade his experience at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last week for anything, but he'd trade his results in for nothing. Frankly, things didn't go as he would have hoped. But Gilberry has resumed working out in Tuscaloosa and told BamaOnLine.com he is intent on showing scouts a better athlete at Alabama's Pro Day on March 12 than the one they saw last week.

"I pulled my hamstring on my 40-yard dash, so I didn't run well and I didn't get to do [every workout]," said Gilberry, who later had to pass on the vertical jump test, among others. "I got 19 or 20 reps on the bench press [at 225 pounds], but I had three taken away because I didn't lock out [at the elbows]. It was disappointing, but I'm hoping to be 100 percent for Pro Day."

Gilberry said the hamstring pull resulted in a time 'in the 4.9s", but is convinced he can improve on that when NFL scouts gather at the Capstone. As for the overall combine experience, Gilberry said he enjoyed it - well, most of it.

"At the start of it, all kinds of people are pulling on you, tugging on you, taking blood, taking urine, measuring your body," Gilberry said. "You definitely feel like a piece of meat. I've never been to a cattle drive, but that's what it felt like."

Among the teams Gilberry said showed the most interest in him were the Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars and San Francisco 49ers. He's already got an 'in' with one of those coaching staffs, as former Alabama coach Mike Shula is the Jaguars' quarterbacks coach. Granted, Shula likely isn't anywhere near the Jaguars' evaluations of defensive players, but from a character and effort standpoint, Shula knows Gilberry as much as any coach.

"With all the teams, you just have to go in and be yourself," said Gilberry.

He weighed at 270 pounds, and said several teams mentioned to him the possibility of bulking up and playing defensive tackle. He got some experience with that when Alabama switched to a four-man front in passing situations last year.

"I told them I would do whatever they think would get me into the league," Gilberry said. "The combine is about numbers, but anyone who turns on the tape will see that I can make plays."

One of three Alabama players invited - defensive back Simeon Castille and wide receiver D.J. Hall worked out as well - Gilberry wasn't able to hang around his former teammates too much. Combine invitees are grouped by position at the event, not school, so Gilberry got to meet with some of the draft's top defensive end prospects.

"I got to hang out with [Ohio State's] Vernon Gholston and [Georgia's] Marcus Howard and all these guys rated higher than me," Gilberry said. "It was motivational."

For the next weeks, Gilberry will take whatever motivation he can get.

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