RedHawk Receiver Ready to Impress Pro ScoutsBy Carlos "Big C" Holmes
Cox News Service
Miami of Ohio star WR Martin Nance has been one busy man since the end of the RedHawks' football season. Nance displayed his skills at the Senior Bowl in January and at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month. After leaving Indy, the receiver headed straight to California, not for the fun and sun, but for more training in preparation for the school's Pro Day workout in March.
Over the last month or so, Nance has made the performance complex of Play Fast in Newport Beach, California his home. He has worked diligently in an effort to show NFL scouts who will be attending the school's workout Thursday that he is among the elite receivers entering the draft.
"I'm getting a lot of work on the drills specific to the Pro Day and Combine, and also getting a lot of work fine tuning my routes and catching the ball," Nance said.
The 6-foot-4, 213-pound receiver is looking to improve upon the numbers he posted at the Combine, where he ran between a 4.54 and 4.58 in the 40-yard dash. Nance wasn't too thrilled with his performance and feels that he can do better.
"I did okay at the combine," he said. "I didn't execute like I wanted to on a couple of drills, so I am really looking forward to making an improvement back in Oxford. However, I thought that I ran my routes and caught the ball well, and I thought my interviews went well."
Nance interviewed with at least 25 teams while at the Combine, including both Ohio teams, Cincinnati and Cleveland.
After a breakout season his sophomore year (2003) when he racked up 1,498 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns, Nance was well on his way to prominence. However, a season-ending knee injury suffered in the fifth game the following season (2004) put somewhat of a damper on the receiver's career.
Nance worked his tail off during the off-season, rehabbing the injured knee and came back strong in 2005 hauling in 81 receptions for 1,107 yards and 14 touchdowns. He averaged 13.7 yards per catch and 100 yards per game. Although the numbers he posted this season were great, Nance hasn't reached the performance level of his sophomore season due to the injury. In fact, he is still not fully recovered from the injury, but is getting close.
"In terms of my quickness and speed I am pretty close to where I was before the injury," Nance said. "Doctors say that the healing process is a 2-year rehab so I have about 5 months to go. But I feel pretty good and mentally I've been able to really sharpen up and grasp the game better over the past year. I think overall I have made improvements."
So you see Nance wasn't only rehabbing the knee, but the brain as well, refining his craft and mental approach to the game.
Here's what a team would be getting should they decide to draft Nance:
• On the field - A big receiver with speed who can make plays after the catch. He has nice hands and good route-running ability and is an aggressive blocker. He's very athletic and makes good adjustments to the ball while in the air. Nance is especially tough to cover in the red zone. He can usually out jump most defenders to make a play on the ball. Nance is also a hard worker and very coachable. Bottom line, the team drafting the talented receiver is going to get first-round value in the third or fourth round where he is projected to go.
• Off the field – Let's just say Nance is not a guy you have to worry about going out rousing a bar ala Tennessee Titans rookie cornerback Adam 'Pac Man' Jones. He's a laid-back guy who enjoys being around friends and family.
If this story I'm about to tell you is indicative of the way Nance conducts himself off the field, then concerns about his character are definitely not an issue. Approximately 11 a.m. EST on Sunday some big galoot, A.K.A Big C, called Mr. Nance for an interview not realizing that he was in California, which is three hours behind. Nance interviewed with me for nearly 20 minutes before it dawned on me that I may have woken him up since it was 8 a.m. his time. At the end of our conversation I apologized profusely only to have him say, "That's quite alright. I was already up getting ready to go to church." There you have it folks - character at its best.