At Georgia Tech’s Pro Day, Nathan Cottrell’s 40 time could open doors

Georgia Tech's Nathan Cottrell runs the 3-cone drill at the team's annual pro day March 11, 2020. (AJC photo by Ken Sugiura)

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Georgia Tech's Nathan Cottrell runs the 3-cone drill at the team's annual pro day March 11, 2020. (AJC photo by Ken Sugiura)

In an indoor practice field quiet enough to hear a player’s breathing as he sprinted half a field away, dreams were realized Wednesday morning at Georgia Tech.

Their Yellow Jackets careers complete, safety Christian Campbell, wide receiver/running back Nathan Cottrell, tight end Tyler Davis and offensive lineman Jared Southers performed for perhaps 20 NFL scouts and coaches at Tech’s annual Pro Day.

“Honestly, it’s like a dream come true because I’ve never thought I’d even be in this opportunity,” Cottrell said. “Growing up, it’s always a dream to have something like this happen and to be able to make it to this stage in life. But, (Wednesday), it went exactly how I was hoping it would go, honestly.”

Perhaps most notably, Cottrell blazed through the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds, according to the school. It was a time that could earn him another look from scouts in the run-up to the draft, held in late April.  He also broad-jumped 10’6” which compares favorably with running backs and wide receivers at the NFL draft combine.

“It’s all we’ve been thinking about since January, so now it’s kind of out of my hands,” Cottrell said. “I feel like I was able to showcase what I was able to do and hopefully turn some heads while we were at it. We’ll just have to see.”

Such speed can go a long way to aiding a draft prospect’s candidacy. In 2016, Tech cornerback Chris Milton put down a sub-4.4 time in the 40 at Tech’s pro day, helping open the door to an NFL career that just finished its fourth season. The time was not a surprise for Cottrell. As a high schooler out of Knoxville, Tenn., he opened the eyes of Tech coaches by running a 4.35.

That speed plus his experience on special teams last season could differentiate him as scouts arrange boards of prospects worthy of drafting or signing as undrafted free agents.

“One of the (scouts) that was here, the first thing that he said to me whenever I walked up to do my testing was like, Special-teams demon right here,” Cottrell said. “I was like, yeah, sure, I’ll take that.”

Cottrell also showed off a set of capable hands as he and Davis ran a series of routes for the scouts. At Tech, playing A-back in his first three seasons and then last season mostly playing special teams, Cottrell caught a total of five passes.

“That was another thing I was hoping I was going to be able to show them just that I can catch the ball out in space and get under it, wherever it’s located,” he said.

Campbell, who played both safety spots in his career and lined up at outside linebacker as a junior in the 3-4 defense, was eager to show scouts his agility. He got plenty of work, as he was the only defensive back to work out. Former Jackets cornerback Step Durham, who was on the Kansas City Chiefs’ training-camp roster in 2018 and then spent the year on injured reserve before he was waived in April 2019, was unable to complete his workout after appearing to suffer a lower-leg injury while running the 40.

“It was tiring,” said Campbell, who ran a 4.63 in the 40. “After one drill, I’m right back up. I wish there were other DB’s out there. It would have definitely helped. It was a little quick, but it felt good.”

Southers, who dropped about 10 pounds since the end of last season to get to about 304, did position drills with Falcons assistant offensive-line coach Bob Kronenberg. He spoke with multiple scouts after the workout, an encouraging sign.

“I was a little short on some of my goals in the testing,” Southers said, “but in terms of the position work and the field drills, I feel I did very well in that, definitely showed athleticism and bend, which is the biggest thing just showing you’re an athlete and can control your body.”

Davis caught just about everything thrown to him during the position drills. He ran the 40 in 4.65 seconds. Only one tight end ran faster at the combine.

“Just to be able to talk to an NFL coach, it was awesome,” Davis said. “That’s something that you dream about.”


(distributed by Tech sports communication office)

Christian Campbell

6-0, 208

40 – 4.63

Vertical jump – 32”

Broad jump – 10’1”

Nathan Cottrell

5-10, 193

40 – 4.38

Vertical jump - 35”

Broad jump – 10’6”

Bench reps (225 lbs) – 18

Tyler Davis

6-4, 250

40 – 4.65

Broad jump – 9’5”

Bench reps (225 lbs) – 23

Jared Southers

6-4, 305

Bench reps (225 lbs) – 27

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