Charles Harris was eager to prove people wrong again.
Harris arrived at Missouri as an unheralded and unheard of football recruit four years ago, then declared early for the NFL Draft in December after emerging as one of the nation’s best pass-rushers the last two seasons.
The Tigers’ Pro Day on Thursday inside Devine Pavilion was another chance for Harris to make a statement.
“I came in with a question about my speed and my agility, but I feel like I came and I proved it,” said Harris, a Lincoln Prep graduate and Kansas City native. “Testing went well. All my numbers improved, as did my fieldwork. My fieldwork was great.”
Harris ran a 4.82-second 40-yard dash and did 21 bench-press reps at the NFL Combine last month.
He didn’t perform either drill at Pro Day, but Harris improved his vertical 5 1/2 inches to 37 1/2 and added nine inches to his broad jump with a leap of 9-feet-10.
“That’s something I’ve been hiding, but I just felt great today going to the gym,” Harris said of his vertical. “I had a great workout out in California at Proactive (Sports Performance), helping me get my vertical right. Obviously, it all paid off.”
Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter, Bengals linebackers coach Jim Haslett and Jets linebackers coach Kevin Greene were among the 43 scouts/coaches from 30 NFL teams in attendance at Thursday’s Pro Day.
Harris, who already has been invited to attend the 2017 NFL Draft on April 27-29 in Philadelphia, said he met with 29 teams at the NFL Combine, but declined to reveal how many teams or which teams have set up individual workouts.
“I’m very anxious,” said Harris, who reportedly posted a 7.05-second three-cone drill. “It’s a long process, so I take it one day at a time, one visit at a time, one meeting at a time. Eventually, I know the days are going to start (crossing) themselves out and eventually the day will come that my name is going to be called and I’ll be happy.”
Nobody at Mizzou’s Pro Day was happier than linebacker Michael Scherer, who underwent surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee fewer than five months ago.
Scherer posted 26 bench-press reps, second only to tight end Tyler Hanneke’s 27, with a 34-inch vertical and a 10-foot broad jump.
He didn’t test in the 40-yard dash or other agility drills and also skipped the position drills, because he hasn’t been cleared by doctors for those activities.
Still, Scherer has received positive feedback about a potential NFL future.
“It would be awesome to get drafted,” he said. “That’s a life goal, so it would be awesome. But I know that no matter what I will have a contract sitting in front of me here in a month and I’ve got to make the most of it. It’s all up to me. It doesn’t matter if you get drafted or sign a piece of paper, if you don’t go out and play, that piece of paper doesn’t matter.”
Defensive tackle Josh Augusta also was among those to shine.
A slimmed-down Augusta, who revealed that he played at 390 pounds last season, checked in at 347 pounds.
He said he’s worked hard on his diet — giving up late-night snacks as well as double cheeseburgers with bacon, mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, mustard and ketchup — and also has his sleep apnea under control.
Augusta also went on medication for a thyroid condition, which was discovered during a physical at the East-West Shrine Game in January.
“I feel great,” he said. “I feel good moving, bending and stuff like that. The only thing I really have to work on is my conditioning. When we were doing position drills, I got winded. I still need to work on that a lot more.”
Augusta — who spoke with 22 teams at the East-West Shrine Game and met Thursday with the Chiefs, Buccaneers, Lions and Rams — hopes to slim down to 335 pounds before the draft.
Cornerback Aarion Penton, on the other hand, sported a beefed-up physique.
After checking in at 5-feet-9 and 177 pounds during the Reese’s Senior Bowl in January, Penton weighed 198 pounds for Pro Day.
“I was in the weight room more than ever, eating a lot of carbs and stuff like that, making sure that the muscle stuck to me,” Penton said.
Penton, who probably projects as a nickel back at the next level, posted a 32-inch vertical, a 40-yard dash around 4.5 seconds based on various hand-timed results, and did 13 reps on the bench press.
He has a visit scheduled April 5 with the Los Angeles Rams.
Tight ends Sean Culkin and Hanneke also participated in Pro Day along with wide receivers Chris Black, Jake Brents and Eric Laurent, cornerback John Gibson, linebackers Donavin Newsom and Tanner Hull, long snapper Jake Hurrell, defensive tackle Rickey Hatley, and running back Alex Ross.