TAMPA — On a day when two of USF's best NFL draft prospects didn't run — defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul didn't need to, and safety Nate Allen had a nagging quad injury — receiver Carlton Mitchell continued to improve his draft stock, running the 40-yard dash in 4.40 seconds, according to USF's results.
"I had a great time. I'm very fortunate to be here," said Mitchell, who checked in at 6 feet 3 and 213 pounds and improved on an official time of 4.49 seconds at the NFL combine four weeks ago.
Mitchell, a former Gaither High standout, has been diligent in training since deciding to skip his senior year after becoming USF's career leader in receiving yards in three seasons. He's in a position to be taken on the draft's second day, which would be the second or third round.
"There's a lot of good talk — they like my size and my speed, my ability, my character," Mitchell said. "At the same time, they want to see me pluck the ball better, keep it away from my body, sink my weight and create separation."
Strong turnout: There were more than 50 representatives from 26 NFL teams at USF's soccer stadium, including three head coaches — the Giants' Tom Coughlin, the Bengals' Marvin Lewis and the Bears' Lovie Smith.
Pierre-Paul, projected as a mid first-round pick despite playing one season of major college football, should be the first Bulls player taken, potentially as the highest ever from USF. In all, six or more Bulls are expected to be drafted.
Pierre-Paul ran well enough at the NFL combine that he didn't run Tuesday but looked solid in extensive position drills with former All-American George Selvie.
"It went pretty well — a great experience," said Pierre-Paul, one of three Bulls represented by agent Drew Rosenhaus. "It's competition — you come out here and do your best, and hopefully they like it."
Back scrambling: Six months after his college career ended with a knee injury in September, quarterback Matt Grothe ran through all the drills, running a 4.84 in the 40. That time would have ranked sixth among the 15 quarterbacks timed at the NFL combine workouts last month.
"I've come a long way in a short time, and I'm proud of myself," said Grothe, who has a workout scheduled with the Bucs on April 8. "I feel real good. I don't know exactly what my times were, but I heard rumors that it was pretty good for where I'm at right now. I thought I threw the ball exceptionally well."
Training again: Former USF walk-on Nick Schuyler, who made national news as the lone survivor of a boating accident that claimed the lives of three others last spring, attended as well, having worked as the personal trainer for USF defensive lineman Aaron Harris and tight end Ben Busbee.
"Nick is awesome. I've never been around somebody who motivated me so much," said Harris, who has added 20 pounds since last season ended. "His whole attitude about life — obviously he's been through a lot. He's as tough as a box of nails."
Schuyler, who is training out of a gym in North Tampa, said he has had informal discussions about making a movie from his book, Not Without Hope.
This and that: Fifteen Bulls from last season's team worked out, along with seven former Bulls from previous seasons, including defensive end Jarriett Buie, who was cut by the Bucs in the preseason last year. … Allen, who did not run at the NFL combine because of a quad injury, has private workouts set with the Cowboys and Chiefs in the next two days. He hopes to run the 40 before the draft and had a 34.5-inch vertical Tuesday, best among the Bulls. … Cornerback Jerome Murphy, projected to go in the first three rounds, was timed at 4.51 seconds, a slight improvement on his time at the combine, despite a slight hamstring injury.
Greg Auman can be reached at email@example.com and at (813) 226-3346.