GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Cornerback Brian Poole was Florida’s only projected draft pick not to receive an invite to the NFL combine.
But for the 32 league teams who didn’t see him there, he got their attention Tuesday at Florida’s Pro Day.
The three-year starter for the Gators was second on the team in pass breakups (10) as a senior and had a 98-yard pick-six in the East-West Shrine Game.
But Poole suffered a minor injury in that game, which is the explanation he got for the combine snub.
“They told me that was kind of the reason, but I don’t know,” Poole said. “I ain’t even think there was a chance I wouldn’t get invited. But you know, I can’t control it. Control the controllables and everything will take care of itself.”
Poole took care of business Monday, running the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds and showed off his versatility in the defensive back drills.
“Anything in the secondary I can do,” said Poole, who played cornerback, nickelback and safety for UF.
He admits the combine controversy fueled his Pro Day display.
“No question about that,” Poole said. “I ain’t going to say I was happy (about missing the combine). I definitely felt a little uneasy with it.”
The 5-foot-10, 209-pounder finally felt at ease following his performance in front NFL coaches and scouts, which he called a dream come true.
“It was an opportunity to put on and really show them what I can do,” Poole said. “I felt smooth. Everything smooth. I dropped one ball unfortunately but besides that I felt like I did pretty good.
“Everybody was pretty impressed. They didn’t think I was going to run as fast as I did. I don’t know why but I showed them.”
Florida coach Jim McElwain said Poole, who walked up front with McElwain to every practice last year, put on a show.
“It was great to see,” McElwain said. “Brian really helped himself.”
Poole has been training for the draft in Boca Raton, Fla., with Gators safety Keanu Neal, who saw first-hand how the combine snub motivated him.
“He used it as a chip on his shoulder,” Neal said. “That’s all you can do. You could only control what you can control. He can’t control what they say or think after he’s done.
“He just kept his mouth shut and worked. He was down there in Boca with me, and every day he came in and worked. It showed today. He did a great job and he showcased his skills.”
Vernon Hargreaves III, who also performed well at Florida’s Pro Day, said Poole remained confident in his abilities through the ordeal.
“Him not coming to the combine kind of surprised me,” Hargreaves said. “But he’s a level-headed kid. Talking to him about it, he didn’t let it faze him, didn’t let it affect him. He came out here, he worked hard and he busted his ass. I think the rest is going to play out really good for him.”