Defensive end Margus Hunt is projected by some experts to be a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, and is also a symbol of just how far the Southern Methodist University football program has come since the infamous “Death Penalty” was levied in the 1980s.
Coach June Jones came to SMU in 2008 and has done an unbelievable job restoring a program that was very good before being put on the “Death Penalty” (the school boasts Pro Football Hall of Famers Lamar Hunt, Raymond Berry, Forrest Gregg, Doak Walker and Eric Dickerson among its alums). In the previous four years, the Mustangs have played in bowl games, winning three (including a 45-10 win over Nevada in the 2009 Hawai’i Bowl, the school’s first bowl appearance in the post-”Death Penalty” era).
Hunt hails from Karksi-Nuia, Estonia, and came to SMU as a decorated track and field athlete (he’d set a junior world record in the discus throw at the 2006 World Junior Championships). With SMU dropping its men’s track and field program, Hunt was convinced to give football a try.
Hunt (6-foot-8 1/2, 282 pounds), who first started playing football in 2009, set an NCAA record with 17 blocked kicks (10 field goals, seven extra points). At SMU’s pro day, Hunt — who stood on his numbers from the NFL Scouting Combine — was worked out by New York Jets coach Rex Ryan.
Also notable from SMU’s pro day were …
Zach Line, RB (6-0 3/4, 230) — Line — who was at the combine — ran the 40-yard dash in 4.72 seconds against the wind and 4.62 seconds with the wind. He had a 33-inch vertical jump and a 9-foot-9 broad jump. He ran the short shuttle in 4.40 seconds and had a 7.12-second three-cone. He looked good in the positional workout, catching the ball well. Line was recommended to Jones by Detroit Lions senior vice president of communications Bill Keenist, whose son played high school football with Line in Oxford, Mich.
Darius Johnson, WR (5-9 1/8, 177) — Johnson — who was at the combine — ran the 40 in 4.65 seconds against the wind and 4.56 seconds with the wind. He had a 33-inch vertical jump and a 9-foot-5 broad jump. He did the three-cone drill in 7.29 seconds.
Taylor Reed, LB (5-11 1/4, 240) — Reed ran the 40 in 4.75 seconds against the wind and 4.68 seconds with the wind. He had a 30 1/2-inch vertical jump and a 9-foot-9 broad jump. He did the short shuttle in 4.23 seconds and the three-cone drill in 7.22 seconds. He also threw the bar up 29 times on the bench press (225 pounds).
Ja’Gared Davis, LB (6-0, 238) — Davis ran the 40 in 4.82 seconds against the wind and 4.78 seconds with the wind. He had a 32 1/2-inch vertical jump and 9-foot-9 broad jump. He did the short shuttle in 4.42 seconds and the three-cone drill in 7.26 seconds. He also had 14 strength lifts.
Reed and Davis each are rookie free-agent pickup possibilities.
Kyle Padron, the quarterback from Eastern Washington who used to play at SMU, threw passes at the pro day, which was held March 27 outdoors on FieldTurf in front of representatives from 20 NFL teams.