Into pro day sensation
By Frank Cooney | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com
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When Huntingdon College wide receiver Cody Pearcy decided last Christmas he needed money to pay for a personal trainer, he knew it would not be gift-wrapped under the tree. To get it, he would need to do what he has always done -- work for it.
So while carrying a full academic load the Montgomery, Ala., school, he worked weekends as a roofer and saved as much of his allowance as possible until he could hire Alex Aucoin of Warehouse Performance in Montgomery.
Their goal was to have Pearcy as ready as possible to perform for NFL scouts at a March pro day workout. They had three and a half weeks. The result shocked everybody as Pearcy, an unknown athlete from a little-known school, turned in one of the best pro football workouts of this century.
It included great numbers in the well-known events, such as 4.31 seconds in 40 yards, 44 inches in the vertical jump and 10 feet, six inches in the broad jump. He also had a 20-yard split time of 2.43 seconds, a 20-yard shuttle of 3.76 seconds and did the three-cone agility drill in 6.67 seconds.
Pearcy was not among the elite athletes invited to the NFL's scouting combine in February. If he managed the same results there, he would have been the star of the event, this year or any year.
Since 2000, 4,638 players have been invited to the combine. Pearcy's 20-yard split and 20-yard shuttle times would tie for third best. His vertical jump would tie for sixth best and his 40-yard time would tie for 11th best.
And suddenly Pearcy is far from unknown. The videos of his workout gained a cult following on YouTube as news traveled fast among football fans and draftnicks. Data from that workout piqued the interest of NFL teams who previously didn't know his name. On Thursday he worked out for the Indianapolis Colts, one of eight teams that quickly scheduled time to see him in person.
"Yes, sir, I know there are no guarantees, so I am just happy they are looking at me," Pearcy told NFLDraftScout.com. The "Sir" is a constant in his speech and a direct reflection of how he was raised.
"I'm grateful I was able to get some training because I learned a lot from Alex," he said. "Everything came together just right. All of my results at the pro day workout were life bests."
At a little over 5-10 and 161 pounds, Pearcy knows he must continue to make a big impression. But at the very least he should be invited to some teams' training camp for a closer look. Or if a team is impressed enough by his workouts and game tapes, there's an outside chance somebody will draft him.
Pearcy is rated as a priority free agent by NFLDraftScout.com, meaning he should expect to be signed as a free agent as soon as the draft ends. If, of course, he isn't selected in the draft.
At Huntingdon College, a small Methodist school in Montgomery that only established a football program in 2003, Pearcy made a statement as a junior when he caught 51 passes for 1,078 yards -- more than 21 yards per catch -- and a dozen touchdowns. Last season, playing also as a returner and defensive back, Pearcy caught 46 passes for 766 yards and eight more scores.
His athletic ability was evident at Glenwood High in his hometown of Phenix City, Ala., about an hour's drive from Montgomery. He starred on back-to-back AISA State championship basketball teams, one AISA State Championship soccer team and was the football team's Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. He was also on the golf team.
But there was nothing to indicate he could turn in an elite performance in a pro day workout. Well, nothing except Pearcy's belief in himself.
"I knew I was improving on my own each year, but felt if I just had a little training I might get some really good results," he said.
Aucoin, who has trained hundreds of athletes, said there didn't seem to be anything special about Pearcy when he showed up in search of training.
"He looked like a normal kid off the street, but as soon as he moved you could tell he had a lot of firepower and needed direction," Aucoin said. "He is much stronger than he appears. He is wound tight and ready to explode."
But even during training Aucoin did not see the types of marks Pearcy managed at the pro day.
"We timed him at the end of workouts, so he was not fresh," Aucoin said. "And our 40-yard run is a little longer than 40 yards, by about a foot and a half, so they have more incentive to improve their time. I think he did a 4.45 on our 40-plus."
Cody did have a few believers before the newsworthy workout -- his parents, sister and older half brother.
"He was a born athlete, always very fast," said Mike Pearcy, Cody's father. "He played baseball and soccer when he was young because his mother didn't want him getting hurt in football. But we convinced her it was OK when he was about in the eighth grade."
Mike, himself raised "as a military brat," and Cody's mother, Cynthia -- known as Deanie by friends and family -- runs a tight ship at home. As long as Cody and his younger sister Casey carry a full academic load and get good grades in college, they get a small allowance to get by. If they want something extra, they need to work for it.
"Our children know there are no free rides," Mike Pearcy said. "They earned academic scholarships to pay half their tuition and we help as long as they do their part. Casey is getting ready to go to dental school. And I believe in Cody and support him, but if he doesn't make it, he will have a business degree and he has always known how to work.
"He was 13 years old when he first went to work for a friend in the roofing business. If he wanted something he worked for it. Last year it was a used bass boat. This year, it was to do his best to get a shot at pro football. We know it's a million to one shot, this pro football. If he makes it, that's great. We're already proud of him, regardless."