UTEP Miners chase NFL dreams at pro day

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    UTEP Miners chase NFL dreams at pro day
    By Bret Bloomquist / El Paso Times
    Posted: 03/11/2010 11:04:23 PM MST

    Click photo to enlargeUTEP lineman Alex Solot sprinted to the finish in 40-yard dash... (Victor Calzada / El Paso Times)«12»EL PASO -- Da'Mon Cromartie-Smith first strapped on football pads in 1996 with the same dream as just about every other 9-year-old boy wearing a helmet has: He wanted his shot at the NFL.

    Through Pee Wee, junior high, Southern California high school and a stellar career at UTEP, he kept that dream alive.

    Thursday afternoon, in a mostly empty Sun Bowl, he reached the next stage of the dream at UTEP's pro day.

    "It's insane," Cromartie-Smith said. "So much work in 13 years of football for these three hours. You show what you've been working on for 13 years.

    "I laid it all out and I'm ready to get my results in April."

    Cromartie-Smith was one of what football coach Mike Price estimated 24 to 30 participants in pro day, many of them seniors-to-be and three from other Division II colleges in Texas.

    They were put through their paces by seven professional scouts, and for recently finished seniors like safety Cromartie-Smith, cornerback Cornelius Brown and receiver Jeff Moturi, this was perhaps their best chance for a good impression.

    "I'll play anywhere, I just want a shot," Cromartie-Smith said. "I don't care if I get drafted, I just want a chance to play."

    Both Cromartie-Smith and Brown turned in quick 40-yard-dash times. Cromartie-Smith termed his 4.40 "the fastest I've run since a high school track meet against Long Beach-Poly."

    Brown, the only Miner at last month's NFL combine, ran a 4.45 after clocking a 4.56 at the combine.

    "I was faster," Brown said. "I



    felt good back in my home stadium. It was fun. ... I'm ready, whether it's as a free agent or as a draft pick."
    Price hosts the pro day every year for both those who have recently completed their eligibility, the seniors-to-be and small college players don't have their own pro day.

    "Their dream is still alive," Price said. "All they want is an opportunity."

    Brown "will be in the NFL one way or another," Price added. "He's great on special teams. He didn't run the time he wanted to at the combine, he didn't have great times, but he did today. He's got this time working for him."

    Miner notes: Braxton Amy, technically a senior last fall, was working out Thursday in the senior-to-be group. He will learn in the next few weeks whether he gets a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, though there's no reason to think he won't. ... Price said he expects Conference USA to release its schedule in the next few weeks, and UTEP will likely have two weekday road games. There is also a possibility a non-conference game could be moved to a weekday. He expects all the home games to be on Saturday night.
    Bret Bloomquist may be reached at bbloomquist@elpasotimes.com; 546-6359.

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