Illinois at Nebraska, 11/10/18

Nebraska offensive lineman Tanner Farmer walks off the field after the Huskers' 54-35 win over Illinois on Nov. 10 at Memorial Stadium.

Devine Ozigbo and Tanner Farmer each posted impressive testing numbers Thursday at Nebraska’s Pro Day as representatives from nearly every NFL team looked on.

Ozigbo, who checked in at 5-foot-11¾ and 222 pounds, ran his 40-yard dash in the high 4.5-second range, according to a consensus of reporters’ hand timings. He also completed 19 repetitions on the bench press and posted a 37-inch vertical jump.

Farmer, 6-3 3/8 and 315 pounds, did 39 reps on the bench press, which would have tied for the top mark in the bench at the NFL Draft Combine last week in Indianapolis along with Iosua Opeta from Weber State. Nobody else at the combine did more than 34.

"Last week was the first week I had benched in a month," said Farmer, who had battled a pectoral muscle injury. "I was hoping to break a record and go at least 50." 

Still, 39 is a big number. Only Vita Vea and Harrison Phillips have topped 40 since 2014 at the combine. 

"We knew he was going to do something crazy, but that’s still impressive," Ozigbo said of his former teammate. 

Farmer’s broad jump (9-10) would have tied Washington State’s Andre Dillard for the top mark among linemen at the combine and his 32½-inch vertical would have been tied with Ohio State’s Michael Jordan for fifth.

"I like to think of myself as a pretty explosive guy, so I was really happy with that. Especially the vertical," Farmer said. 

Ozigbo’s 37-inch vertical would have tied with Alabama’s Damien Harris for fourth among running backs at the combine. 

"I wanted to show that I wasn’t necessarily slow," Ozigbo said. "Just running decent, looking fast, getting in and out of my cuts, and I think overall I did a good job with that and I’m happy with it."

Ozigbo said teams have told him they're impressed with his footwork and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. He put both on display consistently in running for 1,082 yards (7.0 per carry) and 12 touchdowns for NU in 2018, and adding 23 catches for 203 yards. 

"I was having the conversation with my brother toward the end of the season and I said, ‘DJ, honestly this is a blessing right now,’ because at this time last year we never thought we’d be having this conversation," Ozigbo said. "We’re talking about having … a good shot at taking this next step to the next level. I just feel blessed to be here.

"I worked hard, things kind of fell into place. Coaches gave me a shot, the team stepped up, which helped everybody." 

Ozigbo next will travel to visit whichever NFL teams want him to come in and interview before the draft. He's confident, but said a scout told him Thursday that projecting draft position at this point is "like throwing a dart in the dark." 

Former Lincoln Southeast standout and NU outside linebacker Luke Gifford checked in at 6-3 and 243 pounds, did 23 repetitions on the bench press and jumped 35 inches in the vertical. He said scouts told him he ran anywhere in the high 4.5-second or low 4.6 range in the 40. 

Gifford's 243 pounds means he didn't try to cut weight like some prospects do this time of year, but he still ran well. 

"I haven’t really had too much of a problem with putting on weight and staying about the same speed," he explained. "It’s just about strength, and if you keep the strength and put on good weight, you can keep doing the same numbers or even get better." 

Farmer, Gifford and Jerald Foster all worked with Lincoln-based speed trainer Chris Slatt and raved about the results. 

"Slatt’s a genius with what he does and we appreciate him a lot," Gifford said. "It worked out really well. There’s good things about going away (to train) and there’s good things about staying home. I think all three of us guys that stayed here are really happy with our decision." 

Foster (6-2½ and 310) did 22 reps on the bench and had a 26½-inch vertical.

Among the most impressive testers of the day was linebacker Dedrick Young. His unofficial 40 times, consistent among the reporters in attendance, checked in at the high 4.4 range. NU tweeted that he officially ran 4.51. He said he had run 4.5 electronically timed while training in Arizona, so he wasn't surprised with his time. Young checked in at 6-0 1/8 and 233 pounds, and did 26 reps on the bench.

Wide receiver Stanley Morgan, the lone NU draft prospect who was invited to the combine, did not work out on Thursday but caught passes from former Husker quarterback Ryker Fyfe.

An NU official said 29 of 32 NFL teams were on the check-in list for the event, including Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, the father of NU junior wide receiver JD Spielman.

Contact the writer at pgabriel@journalstar.com or 402-473-7439. On Twitter @HuskerExtraPG.


Sports writer

Parker joined the Journal Star as the University of Nebraska football beat writer in August 2017. He previously covered Montana State athletics for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 2012.

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