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WVU’s Joseph shows his strength at pro day

Out of the 22 players who worked out at West Virginia’s Pro Day on Monday, one name stood out the most: safety Karl Joseph, who returned to action after tearing his ACL in October.

Universally regarded as West Virginia’s best draft prospect, Joseph limited his participation so soon after his knee injury, only taking part in the bench press — and for him, his 19-rep performance was nothing to write home about.

“I wanted to get at least 22 reps on the bench since that was the highest number for safeties,” Joseph said. “I ended up getting 19, which I was really upset about. I didn’t get comfortable from the first couple reps, and that messed me up a little bit.”

Joseph’s total was the best among WVU defensive backs, after he held himself out of participation in the NFL Combine. Joseph has been ramping up his physical activity and has started running full-speed, in the belief that he will be completely ready for the start of NFL training camp.

Joseph’s physical improvement had him considering the idea of running the 40 as well, but he believes he made a smart decision by sticking solely to the bench.

“I was thinking about it, but actually going through the process you have to understand that sometimes your mind might tell you that you can do it but your body’s not ready,” Joseph said. “I wanted to, but I’m only at five months (since the injury.) I can’t take any risks to reinjure myself.”

Among players who participated fully, running back Wendell Smallwood might have done the most to improve his stock. Considered a mid-round prospect after declaring early for the NFL Draft, Smallwood took the opportunity to show off his ability as a slot receiver.

“They’ve been telling me that I look like a natural receiver,” Smallwood said. “I moved well in and out of my cuts, and that was the biggest thing that they wanted to see.”

Although Smallwood said he received advice not to run the 40-yard dash again at Pro Day, he wound up officially clocking in at 4.40, a few ticks better than the 4.47 he ran at the NFL Combine and faster than anyone else at WVU’s Pro Day.

Fellow early entrant Daryl Worley also improved on his combine numbers, going from a 4.65 40-yard dash to a 4.58. Worley only ran the 40, while Smallwood limited himself to the 40 and the bench press.

Some of WVU’s seniors also took the chance to show off different skillsets, as linebackers Jared Barber and Shaq Petteway lined up to do offensive position drills as fullbacks. Although Petteway played running back in high school, Barber hasn’t seen any sizable time on offense since he was in middle school.

David Statman is a freelance writer.


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