TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Former Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri performed before NFL scouts aiming to demonstrate that his surgically repaired knee is healthy and that he made a good decision in skipping his senior season.
Sunseri, left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and guard Anthony Steen were among those performing in the Crimson Tide's second pro day Tuesday before a couple of dozen NFL scouts. Sunseri and Steen are returning from season-ending injuries.
Like Kouandjio, who is projected by some as a late first-round pick in the NFL draft, Sunseri left school a year early. But the safety missed the final six games after tearing a knee ligament against Arkansas on Oct. 19 and turned pro despite NFL feedback showing he was anything from a fourth-round pick to an undrafted free agent.
"The deciding factor was how good my knee felt," Sunseri said. "A lot of guys were saying, 'He's coming off knee surgery, I don't know if he'll be able to do a lot of stuff. I don't know if he'll be able to do a pro day.' Well, obviously, I did my pro day. I ran fairly good for a safety. I did all my footwork stuff. I did all my drills, showed I was able to open up, showed that the knee was good."
Sunseri said discussions with Tide coach Nick Saban on the decision "went down to the wire," but that Saban has been fully supportive since then. The coach typically advises players to leave only if they're regarded as first-round picks, such as fellow Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
Sunseri said he was clocked in the 40 from 4.48 to 4.52 seconds, and bench-pressed 225 pounds 21 times. He did drills fielding throws from brother Tino Sunseri, a former Pittsburgh quarterback, and only donned a knee brace for one drill, when he moved laterally among cones before sprinting to a finish.