Three years ago last week, Calvin Pryor was starring on the hardwood of the R. Marion Craig Coliseum.
Last week Pryor was among a host of collegiate football prospects on display at the NFL Combine.
Pryor was interviewed by the NFL Network and was the focus of a long camera shot as an ESPN talk show previewed a discussion on the Combine.
All pretty heady stuff for the small-town multi-sport athlete who just three years ago was leading the Port St. Joe Tiger Sharks to a second consecutive region basketball title and state final four berth.
The other star of that team was Roman Quinn, who was a second-round selection of the Philadelphia Phillies in the Major League Amateur Draft that spring.
Last week was an opportunity for Pryor to stamp his ticket as a projected first round pick in the NFL draft and according to the prognosticators, he generally succeeded.
As Greg Davenport, a columnist for bleacherreport.com, wrote, Pryor did not have a “great” workout at the Combine, but he did nothing to dissuade scouts from the belief that he is one of the top safeties and defensive backs in the draft.
Pryor ran under 4.6 in the 40-yard dash, placing eighth among safeties.
Most importantly he ran an identical time to Ha Ha Clinton-Nix out of Alabama, with whom Pryor is locked in a contest for top safety, at least according to the experts.
He hoisted 18 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press, which was fourth among safeties.
Pryor did not participate in shuttle runs or cone drills and his vertical jump and broad jump, Davenport wrote, ranked in the lower end of the safety class.
Bleacher Report’s B.J. Kissel wrote those weren’t the drills where Pryor figured to win or lose with scouts anyway.
“When it comes to physicality at the safety position,” he wrote, “most draft enthusiasts already know about Louisville’s Calvin Pryor.”
Kissel said Pryor most needed to show scouts “he can be trusted to play in space.”
According to Omar Kelly with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel – according to published reports Pryor is working out in South Florida with All-Pro safety Eric Berry – Pryor “killed” the position drills. “Solid work.”
The surprise of the Combine was that while Pryor weighed 207 pounds, his listed weight, he measured 5-foot-11, three inches under the height listed in the University of Louisville program.
For those who watched Pryor on the basketball court in high school, and the two marches to the state final four his final two seasons, his stat-line filling performances take on a greater stature considering he was less than six feet tall.
And the competitive streak so on display during his time in Port St. Joe was also part of the impression Pryor left behind at the Combine.
“I’m a playmaker,” he succinctly told the NFL Network in an interview before he ran the 40-yard dash.
According to most experts, safety is a two-horse race between the cover skills of Clinton-Dix and the physical playmaking of Pryor.
“Guys know that I can play football,” Pryor said in a podcast with Davenport on Kellogg’s Komments earlier this month. “They know that I’m physical, that I have the strength to play. They just want to see how fast I can run.”
The 40-yard dash, he added, was critical and his time at the Combine was a bit faster than some projected. Most importantly, it was even with Clinton-Dix.
Coming out of the Combine, Davenport wrote, the two-horse race remains and likely will until the May draft.
A mock draft by si.com, the web site for Sports Illustrated, continues to the list Pryor as likely to go first to either the Green Bay Packers or the Philadelphia Eagles.
Reviewing a host of projections, Pryor is generally considered to go to one of several teams in need of secondary help who draft in the teens to early 20’s in May.
That list also includes the Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys.
And that this, literally, national attention is focused on a hometown son is amazing considering what Calvin Pryor was doing, right here in Port St. Joe, just three years ago last week.