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Fitzgerald shines at workout

By: Larry Fitzgerald
Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
Originally posted 1/16/2004

Pittsburgh, Pa. — Walter Camp College Football Player of the Year Larry Fitzgerald Jr. put an end to any speculation regarding his ability to run like the wind. Nearly 90 NFL coaches, scouts and executives were in Pittsburgh at the Cost Center on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh on Monday, March 22, to watch 17 Panthers work out.

It was believed to be the largest turnout on the campus since 1997. Among team head coaches, general managers and presidents present were Dennis Green of the Arizona Cardinals, Steve Mariucci of the Detroit Lions, Jack Del-Rio of Jacksonville, Buffalo Bills President Tom Donahoe, New York Giants General Manager Ernie Accosi, and Matt Millen of the Lions.

The Vikings were represented by Scott Studwell; the reason most of the scouts were there was to see record-setting Pittsburgh All-American Larry Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald performed a variety of drills for all to see, including what many believed the most important — the 40-yard dash. Fitzgerald was timed on various stopwatches at 4.47 and 4.48 seconds. Fitzgerald also bench pressed 225 pounds 20 times in succession.

The prevailing assessment after the workout was that Fitzgerald was impressive. “I felt pretty good about it,” he said of his performance. “It was exciting.”

Fitzgerald is rated the number-one player by ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper. Most experts expect him to be drafted in the top five selections.

Which team is most likely to select Fitzgerald number one? The 2004 draft is believed to be the strongest and deepest class of receivers in history for one draft, and Fitzgerald, the 2003 Biletnikoff Award winner, heads the class.

The San Diego Chargers have the first pick in this year's draft; Oakland picks second, Arizona picks third, and the New York Giants pick fourth. San Diego just traded wide receiver David Boston to Miami; their head coach, Marty Shottenhiemer, is a graduate of Pittsburgh. Oakland Raiders General Manager Mike Lombardi is a graduate of Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Larry Jr. also graduated from Valley Forge just outside of Philadelphia.

Arizona Head Coach Dennis Green hired Larry Jr. and his brother Marcus as Vikings team ball boys when he was head coach in Minnesota for 10 years. Green said during his tenure in Minnesota that Larry Jr. was ready to play in the NFL when he was in high school at Holy Angels in Richfield.

Green also coached Jerry Rice when he was an assistant with San Francisco, coached Cris Carter in Minnesota, and drafted Randy Moss in 1998.

The consensus is that Larry Jr. should have won the 2003 Heisman Trophy. He finished second to Jason White, who is returning to Oklahoma for his sixth year. Fitzgerald was the first sophomore ever to be runner-up for the Heisman. 

“I've coached two Biletnikoff winners and seven first-round draft choices at receiver,” said Pittsburgh Head Coach Walt Harris. “If there's somebody better than Larry, I'd like to see him.”

Fitzgerald set or tied four NCAA records, including scoring at least one touchdown in 18 consecutive games and scoring 34 touchdowns in two years.

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ, 89.9 FM, at 8:20 am, and Monday mornings 9-10 am. He welcomes reader comments to or www.larry-fitzger


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