Trae Waynes draws top billing at MSU's pro day

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Several NFL big wigs attended Michigan State's pro day Wednesday, and Spartans wide receiver Tony Lippett knew exactly why.

"That man over there," he said, looking in the direction of cornerback Trae Waynes.

Waynes is a likely first-round pick and will probably be the first cornerback selected when the draft begins April 30 in Chicago. But he humbly noted that several of his teammates deserve looks from NFL teams, too.

"It's a great feeling, but they're not all out here for me," he said. "We've got a lot of great players here, and they're all getting looked at."

Whether the NFL scouts in attendance were there to watch Waynes, Lippett or another prospect, Wednesday's pro day at the Skandalaris Football Center was another sign of the recent rise of the program.

Among the VIPs in attendance were head coaches Chip Kelly (Philadelphia), Mike Zimmer (Minnesota) and Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh), who has attended at least the past three years. General managers Martin Mayhew (Lions), Kevin Colbert (Pittsburgh), Doug Whaley (Buffalo) and Rick Spielman (Minnesota) watched the testing and drills, too.

All 32 teams were represented, and a Michigan State spokesman said there were 53 NFL scouts, coaches and executives in attendance. Last year, there were representatives from 29 teams.

"I think it speaks volumes about where we've come as a football program, but you don't win the games that we've won, the number of games that we've won over these last five years, without great players," coach Mark Dantonio said.

In addition to the 19 players participating in pro day, some former Michigan State players were in attendance, including cornerback Darqueze Dennard, who plays for the Bengals, and tight end William Gholston, who plays for the Buccaneers.

Waynes was the main attraction, but he barely participated after dominating the combine last month, running the 40-yard dash in 4.31 seconds. He participated in position drills and ran the 20- and 60-yard shuttles, hoping to improve his combine times after speculation that his slow shuttles were a sign that he's faster than he is agile.

At the combine, Waynes ran the 20-yard shuttle in 4.39 seconds. On Wednesday, Michigan State said he clocked in at 4.19 seconds, but Waynes said he heard a time as low as 4.01 seconds. His 60-yard shuttle was 11.24 seconds, according to the university.

"I guess a lot of people was doubting my shuttle or wanted to see what I really could do, so I felt like it was really important to get that out of the way," Waynes said.

Behind Waynes, Michigan State's top players entering the draft are running back Jeremy Langford, wide receivers Lippett and Keith Mumphery and safety Kurtis Drummond.

Langford was the fastest back at the combine with a 40-yard dash of 4.42 seconds, so most of his work came in the position drills.

Lippett, though, hoped to improve his 40 time and did. After running a 4.61 at the combine, the university said he ran a 4.5 on Wednesday, and Lippett said he heard his time clocked as low as 4.46.

Lippett also participated in defensive back drills because teams have expressed interest in moving him to cornerback. Even though the 6-foot-3 Lippett was productive with 1,198 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns last season, some NFL scouts think he'd be wise to become a cornerback and use his length on defense.

Lippett said he'd prefer to play receiver, about 60 percent to 40 percent, but has been working more as a cornerback since the combine.

"I think in this day and age, there's very few of those diamonds in the rough so people are starting to say, he may be," Dantonio said.

Extra points

…Waynes said he hasn't taken any pre-draft visits yet, but has a couple scheduled with the Vikings and Jaguars.

…Lippett said the Texans and Patriots are coming to East Lansing to work him out. Mumphery also said he'll work out for the Texans, so other Michigan State players will likely have a chance to impress, too.