Michigan State vs. Nebraska, 11.16.13

Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong (left) and Taylor Martinez watch the big screen at Memorial Stadium near the end of a 41-28 loss to Michigan State on Nov. 16.

Taylor Martinez walked down the steps and back into a familiar scene, quickly surrounded by cameras and  microphones and questions.

Just like the old days.

Except these are new days, made so clear Thursday as Martinez worked out not only at quarterback, but also at defensive back and wide receiver, in front of NFL scouts at Nebraska's Pro Day.

The former Husker showed no signs of being affected by the toe problems that disrupted his senior season.

"I really didn't practice for safety or receiver. The only thing I've been doing is (preparing) for quarterback the whole time," Martinez said. "But I felt pretty good at receiver and at safety. Whoever wants me, at whatever position, I'll go."

In his first group interview since Oct. 26 after the Minnesota game, Martinez seemed mostly pleased with his busy day. While there were varying initial reports of his 40-yard dash time, NFL.com later listed his best of two sprints at 4.45 seconds.

Pretty good, Martinez thought, though he did say: "I thought I would have run a little faster time."

Even so, he resembled his old self, posting a 39-inch vertical leap, a 10-9 broad jump, a 20-yard shuttle time of :04.03 and did the three-cone drill in :06.85.

NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt pointed out that Martinez's vertical and broad jumps and shuttle time would have been better or matched the numbers of any of the QBs at the NFL Combine.

While Brandt admitted some teams will have difficulty knowing where or how to use Martinez, the former Husker did his job Thursday: He'd given scouts something to think about.

"Some NFL team will have to take a look at Martinez and decide what to do with him because he’s such a gifted athlete," Brandt wrote.

From a layman's eye, Martinez performed well during his QB work in front 28 scouts representing 18 different teams. The football hit the turf three times during his passing drills, but only one was because of a misfire on his part.

After throwing passes, Martinez suddenly found himself backpedaling as a defensive back, then catching passes as a receiver.

Martinez hadn't played safety since high school. He hadn't been a wide receiver since he was a true freshman on the scout team.

But he's keeping an open mind.

"It really doesn't matter to me," Martinez said. "I'm an athlete, so I can go out there and play whatever position, just like how I did today."

Martinez said it was about five weeks ago when he started to feel like he did before the injury bug hit. He says his work Thursday proved he'd moved past the injuries.

"I started training about five weeks ago. I wish I had more time to train, but I thought I did pretty good with five weeks of training."

As for the question about which position he's best suited for at the next level, well, it's not like that question is new.

"I think it's a lot easier (now) because a lot of people were saying coming from high school to college that I would never play quarterback, that I'd move to safety or receiver," Martinez said. "So it's the same process. A lot of people are doubting me now to play quarterback. ... So we'll see if I prove the haters wrong again. We'll find out."

Martinez was among 15 former Huskers to work out in front of scouts Thursday. Twelve players were from the recent senior class, with 2012 seniors Kyler Reed, Ben Cotton and Baker Steinkuhler (working out as an offensive lineman) also participating.

One former Husker who did not test was wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, who tweaked his hamstring while at the NFL Combine a couple weeks ago.

Cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste was a different case, working up a sweat despite what seemed to be a respectable performance at the Combine.

Having posted an official 40 time of :04.61 at the Combine, the 6-foot-3, 218-pound Jean-Baptiste felt he could do better on his home turf.

He was right.

Jean-Baptiste on Thursday posted 40 times of :04.45 and :04.48 seconds, according to NFL.com. That should put him in position to be at least a second- or third-round pick.

"I just (wanted) to be more relaxed," Jean-Baptiste said. "I was too tense at the Combine. I wasn't focused. I felt more at home at Nebraska."

Results were not as easy to calculate for some of the others, though offensive tackle Brent Qvale revealed some of his numbers. He weighed in at 318 pounds, posted a 40 time of about :05.1, and had 24 reps on the bench, which is a good number when you consider his arm length.

Offensive guard Spencer Long, weighing in at 316 pounds, also did well weight lifting. While still limited in what he can do, as he regains full strength after an emergency appendectomy in January that delayed his rehab from an MCL tear, Long recorded 28 reps.

That was the second-most of any former Husker, just one behind Cole Pensick.

Other bench rep numbers: Andrew Rodriguez (24), Reed (24), Jeremiah Sirles (21), Jason Ankrah (20), Ben Cotton (19), Thad Randle (19), Martinez (17), Steinkuhler (17), Andrew Green (15), Mohammed Seisay (13) and Ciante Evans (8).

For some, it was perhaps the only chance to make an impression with NFL personnel.

For Long, a likely draft prospect despite his injury, he will hold his own personal Pro Day in Lincoln on April 17 when he hopes to be fully healthy and participate in all the drills.

"I just have to show that I'm healthy," Long said. "It's a big concern for these teams, 'Is he going to be ready to practice? Is he going to be ready to play some football?' And, yes, I am. I'm pumped about it."

Be the first to know - Sign up for Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

​Reach Brian Christopherson at bchristopherson@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. Follow him on Twitter @HuskerExtraBC.


Load comments