All-American WR Broyles holds pro day after injury
By JEFF LATZKE
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) All-American receiver Ryan Broyles said Thursday that he will be ready to compete right away for any NFL team that drafts him, dismissing any concerns about the torn knee ligament that brought an early end to his record-setting college career at Oklahoma.
And not just by the time the season starts. Broyles believes he'll be ready to go in time for minicamp.
Less than five months after having surgery on a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, Oklahoma's star receiver made his case for the NFL draft Thursday by running the 40-yard dash and a handful of routes for pro scouts.
Broyles was clocked in 4.57 seconds and 4.59 seconds on a pair of 40-yard runs and caught six passes from former Oklahoma quarterback Joey Halzle.
"The scouts said the same thing: They don't expect me to be full speed, and I don't expect the same," Broyles said. "But me being competitive, I wish it was 4.3s. But that's not the scenario. It just shows that I'm working hard, and I'm getting my lateral movement back as well."
About 30 minutes after Broyles got started, scouts hollered across Oklahoma's indoor practice facility to halt the session after Broyles had only run a handful of routes. He was able to accelerate, make quick stutter-step stops and come out of his breaks in order to catch Halzle's passes.
"I felt good. They cut me short," Broyles said. "I feel like I could keep going right now."
Broyles tore his ACL in November, shortly after breaking the NCAA record for career receptions. He finished his career with 349 catches for 4,586 yards and 45 touchdowns. He was also the leader among active players with 1,194 career yards on punt returns at the time he got hurt.
"I've been working as hard as possible, trying to get back to my normal activities as fast as possible throughout the process," Broyles said. "I probably started running three weeks early, so that's why I'm looking so well right now. I pushed through the pain. Now, the pain's gone away."
Broyles said he trained for about two months in Southern California to get in shape for the draft and he believes he's "ahead of schedule right now." He was told his recovery would take up to nine months, and he's only halfway to that point.
He wore a soft sleeve on his injured knee.
"My left leg's not where I want it to be, but that's not expected right now. I've still got to get in the weight room a little bit more, but today I showed up and showed that I've been working hard," Broyles said.
Broyles participated on a limited basis at the NFL combine, going through interviews and tests such as the Wonderlic, and only had measurements done at Oklahoma's pro day. He was the only one who worked out at the special session exactly two weeks before the first night of the draft.
"As much as anything, it shows Ryan's toughness, his courage, his competitiveness," coach Bob Stoops said. "As talented as he is, that's just him. Most guys wouldn't have done that."
Broyles said doctors have told him his knee will feel much stronger in another six weeks. He plans to take it easy in the final days leading up to the draft, believing that there's not much more he can do at this point to show how far he's come.
"They know he's not all the way back but he sure looked good, and that's what they wanted to see," he said. "That's probably smart and why they didn't have him catch that many or run that many routes. We've got enough route-running and catching to see (on film). I think they just want to see that it's healing like it should."
Broyles certainly isn't the first player to go through a devastating knee injury at just the wrong time. Perhaps most notably in recent years, Miami's Willis McGahee injured three knee ligaments in the 2003 national championship game and is still in the league today - although his draft stock dropped slightly at the time.
"It's a part of the game," Broyles said. "Some guys buckle when they get hurt and they want to sit back. I'm not one of those guys. I take it as a challenge. I'm going to come back stronger, faster and more healthy than I've ever been."
Updated April 12, 2012