TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Two years ago, Javien Elliott dropped by Florida State’s annual Pro Day to watch the likes of Lamarcus Joyner and Terrence Brooks work out for NFL scouts, coaches and front-office personnel. Although he was a walk-on at the time, and wouldn’t become a factor on the FSU football team until much later, Elliott still made his own plans to attend down the road.
“I was like, I want to do whatever I can to get to this point,” Elliott said.
Fast-forward two years, and Elliott made good on that goal by competing at Pro Day and raising eye brows with an impressive workout.
He even surprised himself by running the 40-yard dash in a speedy 4.41 seconds (unofficially).
“It was faster than I thought,” Elliott said with a smile.
From a former walk-on, to a scholarship player, to finally earning a spot as a starter in FSU’s secondary, Elliott has had an few months.
Three years ago, he was all but out of football. But he dipped his toes back in, joined the Seminoles as a walk-on and quickly regained the form he had as a standout at Rutherford High in Panama City.
Coach Jimbo Fisher surprised Elliott with a scholarship before the 2015 season and, thanks to a few injuries, he became a key part of the Seminoles’ defensive backfield.
Elliott finished the season with an interception and two forced fumbles.
“When I came in,” Elliott said, “my main thing was to get a scholarship, then to move on up and just get better and better and keep marking off accomplishments.”
Count a strong Pro Day as the latest on that list.
“That was really fun to watch Javien,” Fisher said. “It’s just great to see that. That’s what dreams are made of.”
Newberry continues recent tear
Giorgio Newberry was among FSU’s most pleasant surprises last year, a late-blooming fifth-year senior who emerged as a disruptive force on the defensive line.
After bouncing between positions for four years, Newberry finally settled in at defensive end and recorded two sacks, three tackles for loss and a startling six pass break-ups.
With a lengthier resume and an impressive physical frame – he stands at 6-6 and has trimmed down to about 280 pounds after training at high-altitude in Denver – Newberry has caught the attention of NFL scouts.
He earned an invitation to last month’s NFL combine and improved on nearly all of his combine marks at Tuesday’s Pro Day.
“How many 6-6, 290-pound guys are there that can run, change direction, play with power, length, speed?” Fisher said. “There’s not many guys like that.”
Fisher credits a change in Newberry’s attitude for his senior surge.
“We joked about it,” Fisher said. “In the offseason (last year), he thought he should be playing.
“I said, ‘No, you play when you deserve to play. When you’ve earned the right to play.’ And he bought into it and he changed everything.”
A revamped approach under new position coach Brad Lawing didn’t hurt, either.
Lawing completely overhauled FSU’s pass rush in his first year on the job, helping a defense that recorded just 17 sacks in 2014 improve to 32 sacks a year later.
“He really stepped in and helped me out a lot,” Newberry said. “I couldn’t thank him any more.”
With the ability to play at tackle or end, Newberry hopes his versatility makes him an attractive option in next month’s draft.
He even worked out at linebacker on Tuesday, and feels he can play there if need be.
“Coaches asked me, ‘What position do you want to play?’” Newberry said. “Just put me on the field and coach me up. I’m ready to play football.”
Lawrence-Stample makes up for lost time
It’s hard to blame defensive lineman Nile Lawrence-Stample for being a little anxious on Tuesday morning.
After a strong senior season at FSU followed by several weeks of training, Lawrence-Stample got to the combine in Indianapolis only to realize he would be sitting out of physical drills due to an injury.
While he feels he still did well in the interview portion of the combine, FSU’s Pro Day marked Lawrence Stample’s first chance to show scouts what he could do on the field.
“I think I did well,” Lawrence-Stample said after running an unofficial 5.13-second 40-yard dash, an impressive mark given his size (6-1, 314 pounds).
“I think I was able to show my explosiveness and the fact that I have really good feet and how fast I am, overall, as a player.”
Lawrence-Stample said he picked up a few pointers from former teammate and current Chicago defensive lineman Eddie Goldman, and that he feels he has what it takes to succeed at the next level.
“I have the tools,” Lawrence-Stample said. “All I need is someone to really push me and get me there, and I’ll probably be one of the most dominant pass rushers in the league.”