Former Tennessee receiver Kelley Washington felt right at home in the RCA Dome on Thursday and Friday.
Washington said he's confident he passed the eyeball test at the NFL combine in Indianapolis this week .
"Most all of the teams told me they're impressed with my size,'' said Washington, a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder. "I'm looking forward to coming back to Tennessee next week to start working out there.
"I'll put on a good show at our pro day in March (12th). I expect great numbers, and I expect every team to look at me as a can't miss, even though I had those injuries.''
In addition to looking at him as a receiver, Washington said some teams have expressed interest in his abilities as a quarterback.
"They've seen me throwing the ball around,'' Washington said. "They notice everything.''
NFL draft analyst Frank Coyle has projected Washington as the No. 17 pick in the first round of the upcoming draft despite the fact that Washington played just four games for the Vols last season. Washington missed the first two games with a sprained knee and the final seven with an injured neck.
Washington suffered the career-threatening injury in the fourth quarter of UT's loss at Georgia on Oct. 12 when he landed awkwardly and experienced a whiplash effect.
Noted orthopedist Dr. Drew Dossett fused two of Washington's vertebrae on Nov. 26 in Dallas and ordered him to wear a neck brace for the next six weeks.
Washington said he came out of the neck brace one day early - so he could sit on the sidelines and watch his teammates play Maryland in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31.
"Before that, the only time I was out of that brace was when I took a shower,'' Washington said. "That six-week period was tough, because I couldn't lift or go out anywhere. I'm an outgoing person, but I just stayed in my apartment because I didn't want people to see me wearing that brace.''
Washington said he didn't feel like himself until he went to Phoenix to begin training Jan. 10.
"I gradually worked myself back into things,'' Washington said. "I started feeling like the old Kelley when I was able to stay out on the field for hours and get back to lifting weights.''
Former UT cornerback Julian Battle, who along with Washington is represented by agent Alvin Keels, joined Washington in Phoenix the second week of January.
"It was just like old times, with us talking to each other and pushing one another,'' Washington said. "We've trained about six hours a day, six days a week. When we're not training, we've pretty much lived in the Jacuzzi.''
Washington said his medical status is no longer a concern.
"Every team doctor has their questions, but most all of them will go right to my surgeon, Dr. Dossett,'' Washington said. "That's one of the big advantages I have right now. Dr. Dossett is considered the guru of neck-fusion procedures, and most physicians here turn to him.''
Keels said the swelling that remains in Washington's neck is minimal. Washington will be examined by Dossett one final time before the draft in April.
Washington's focus is on the upcoming pro day workout at UT.
"I'm amped up for it,'' Washington said. "I've been working out and training my whole life, and I like the idea of a lot of people there watching me.''
Washington said he chuckles when he hears that NFL teams expect him to run the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds.
"I've been running 4.4s since I've gotten back training,'' Washington said. "I feel like I'm stronger than I was before I got hurt, actually.''
Washington said he can still bench press more than 400 pounds, and he anticipates doing more than 20 repetitions of 225 pounds and having a vertical jump approaching 40 inches.
"Everything has worked out,'' he said. "I just wish I could have contributed more last season. I wanted to be out there playing for Tennessee and my family. I'll look back on it as a learning experience.''
Copyright 2003, Knoxville News-Sentinel Co.
I think washington has the potential to be a great wide reciever...maybe i think because im a UT fan...but he should be considerd as the #2 WR in the drat...what are your guys opinions on wasington and the other WR in the draft