Auburn pro day features Coleman, Barber, Williams
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Auburn's pro day featured a cancer survivor, an underclassman determined to improve his mother's living situation and a player kicked off the team early in the season.
Left tackle Shon Coleman, tailback Peyton Barber and receiver D'haquille Williams were among those trying to improve their job prospects Monday before NFL scouts and executives from every team but the Cardinals, including New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
They all are trying to overcome obstacles en route to what they hope are NFL careers. Barber's story came out two weeks ago at the NFL combine, where the third-year sophomore revealed that he decided to skip his final two seasons of college partly because his mother, Lori, has to cram her family into her sister's apartment in Georgia.
''I didn't want to come out but that's my family,'' Barber said after his pro day workout. ''Family's family and we've got to stick together.
''My mom doesn't have health care right now, so I want to get that for her.''
Projected as a possible mid-round pick, Barber ran for 1,017 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. He also overcame ADHD and dyslexia.
Coleman was limited at the NFL combine and pro day because of a partially torn MCL in his right knee diagnosed and surgically repaired after the season. The two-year starting tackle, who appears likely to be the first Auburn player picked, is hoping to get fully back in time for mini-camp.
Coleman, who played the final three games thinking it was just a sprain, didn't go through any of the drills on Tuesday
''It's definitely frustrating,'' he said. ''Being at the combine, I truly feel like I'm probably the most athletic lineman there. Me not being able to showcase that, it's kind of painful.''
The 6-foot-6, 305-pounder sat out the 2011 and 2012 seasons after being diagnosed with leukemia in high school. He was eligible for another season after being granted an extra year by the NCAA.
''I think Shon's upside is through the roof,'' Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. ''You're talking about a guy who really only played two years of SEC football, and you see how much he improved from the first year to the second year.''
He predicts that Coleman will ''be a bigtime left tackle for someone.''
Malzahn was more cautious in predicting the NFL prospects of Williams. He dismissed the wide receiver after off-the-field issues on Oct. 6 and the once-highly rated pro prospect wasn't having a good season on the field either.
Malzahn said Williams has an opportunity and ''we'll see what happens.''
''I just decided to give him a chance to show what he could do to the scouts,'' Malzahn said. ''I made that call last week. He's out here, and we wish him the best.''
Williams declined requests to speak to reporters. He didn't wow NFL scouts with his 40 times, getting clocked in 4.70 and 4.72 seconds, according to unofficial numbers released by Auburn.
Offensive lineman Avery Young, who also opted to leave school early, said Auburn players welcomed their former teammate.
''That's still our brother,'' Young said. ''Regardless of what all the issues were, he's still our brother. He's still an Auburn guy, and we always rally around each other, no matter what.''
Coleman declined comment on Williams' return, saying: ''That's for everybody else to talk about.''
Barber improved his 40 time slightly from the 4.64-second performance at the combine, clocking times of 4.59 and 4.60 seconds in Auburn.
He was taken aback by the attention his story received when he revealed that his mother was, in his words, ''homeless.''
''I wasn't expecting it to be like that,'' Barber said. ''I thought it would get out but not like that.''
Teammates noticed. Cornerback Jonathan Jones said Barber's disclosure opens people's eyes to what some athletes go through away from the spotlight.
''His story is one of hardship but I think he'll be able to overcome it,'' Jones said. ''He's a great player and I think he made the right decision.''