NORMAN — A couple of weeks ago, Frank Alexander was forced to stand in front of representatives from every NFL team and tell them he had a heart condition and would not be able to take part in the Combine.
It was a pride-swallowing and difficult moment for the former Oklahoma standout who had gone to Indianapolis in hopes of impressing those same scouts and officials. Alexander’s future, which seemed so bright after he was named the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Year, was launched in the air by a surprise diagnosis.
He said he “begged” to participate, but the doctors there would not allow it.
“I had worked so hard to get to that point,” Alexander said. “I had been training for six or seven weeks, plus the 15 years of playing football. It was scary to know it could shut down because of one little judgment.”
But that decision was ultimately overruled. After Alexander’s Combine experience ended unfortunately, he underwent a series of tests that showed he actually did not have a hole in his heart, as it was initially believed.
“I didn’t have a hole at all,” he said.
Alexander was still drowsy from medication and testing, but he still recalled smiling wide when the doctors told him that he was OK.
"It was like my first Christmas or something,” Alexander said.
The 6-foot-4, 271-pound native of Baton Rouge, La., had been given another chance to continue his football career. And it made Wednesday’s Pro Day inside OU’s Everest Training Center all the more important.
He ran the 40-yard dash in a respectable 4.76 seconds. He had a 9-foot, 9-inch broad jump and a 34 ½-inch vertical.
Regardless of the specific numbers, it allowed the teams to see Alexander was healthy.
Normally there’s a certain stress level that goes along with the auditions for scouts, but Alexander said he has a different perspective on things, having been through his recent ordeal.
"I really was just grateful and thankful that I was able to get back out here,” he said. “I just wanted to do what I’ve been doing, and that’s playing football and competing. It wasn’t any big pressure or anything.” Alexander figures to be a mid-round pick. He said he has not been given any sort of range and does not know what to expect in next month’s draft.
That was the sentiment, too, from even OU’s top two prospects, cornerback Jamell Fleming and linebacker Ronnell Lewis.
Both Fleming and Lewis fared well at the February Combine. Because of that, Fleming opted to do very little Wednesday at Pro Day. He did go through the defensive back drills, trying to demonstrate technique to the scouts.
Fleming said he felt as if he “cleaned up” some of his work in the drills, designed to test hip flexibility and coverage ability.
"There are a lot of cornerbacks (in the draft),” Fleming said. “I feel like I’m one of the top guys, though.” Fleming could be a first- or second-day player, depending on which team or teams like him. Lewis let most of his numbers from the Combine stand, but he did want to whittle down his time in the 40. He went from 4.68 in Indy to 4.65 on Wednesday. Several teams that use a 3-4 defense - Dallas and Pittsburgh, among them - have shown interest in Lewis, who is a linebacker-hybrid mix.
Wednesday was important, too, for linebacker Travis Lewis, who could not complete the Combine workouts because of a leg injury. Lewis weighed in at 243 after playing last season near 230. He ran a slow 4.88-second 40 at the Combine, before pulling out, and he got that down to a 4.75-second time Wednesday.
Lewis was once seen as a second-day kind of prospect, but his stock has progressively fallen the past year or so.
“I’ve put myself out there, and now it’s up to (the teams) to make a decision,” Lewis said. “They said I looked good, ran well, moved well. I’m pretty satisfied." Receiver Ryan Broyles was present Wednesday, but only for his height, weight and reach to be recorded. The Norman native is waiting as long as he can before he tests his surgically repaired left knee for scouts. Broyles, the NCAA’s all-time receptions leader, said he plans to hold his own private workout closer to the April draft.