Coleman, Benford draw a crowd at UTC Pro Day - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Coleman, Benford draw a crowd at UTC Pro Day

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- B.J. Coleman and Joel Bradford tried to treat Monday like one of their old game days at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

But it was clear early on that the Mocs' annual Pro Day meant a little bit more.

"Joel and I went to Wally's for breakfast. He ordered the breakfast special and only ate two bites, so I knew he was feeling it," Coleman said with a smile.

Coleman and Bradford joined a group of five other NFL hopefuls, including UTC defensive back Chris Lewis-Harris and former Tennessee Tech wideout Tim Benford, for a series of drills in front of 16 professional scouts and two NFL assistant coaches. Dozens of current UTC players and fans also turned out to watch the process.

The event's feature segment was Coleman's 20-minute throwing session to Bradford and Benford, which also included Western Michigan tight end Dallas Walker (whose family now lives in Chattanooga) and former Baylor School star and former Maryville College wideout Wesley Idlette.

Coleman, who was unable to throw at the NFL Combine in February because of a broken pinky finger, completed 34 of 43 passes (per OptimumScouting.com's Walker Rhodes) with near-perfect accuracy from 20 yards and in.

"Everything felt great. Felt like I had great rotation on the football. Velocity and accuracy I felt comfortable with. Ball came out good. There's no soreness at all, so we'll go from there," Coleman said.

Benford was also of great interest to scouts after battling a rib injury at the NFL Combine. The former Red Bank star ran at Tennessee Tech's pro day last month, but chose to run routes and catch passes at UTC's event so that he could work with Coleman.

"I feel like it was an okay day, not a great day, but I have improved. I wanted to show scouts I could run deep routes and use my hands. Some people have said I've had inconsistent hands, so I wanted to show my hands and that I could go get the ball."

Benford and Coleman spent several minutes with a few different scouts afterwards, and expect more visits to come in the three weeks leading up to the draft.

Chattanooga head coach Russ Huesman knows that increasing interest in the small-school duo has a positive impact on his program and Monday's other participants.

"This is huge for us to get this kind of exposure," said Mocs' head coach Russ Huesman. "Obviously B.J. brought most of them out here, but it's great for the other guys. All they need is to catch one scout's eye. They just have to get into camp, so if they found one guy that liked them, it helps a whole bunch."

Lewis-Harris was the "under the radar" guy that seemed to benefit most from the interest in Coleman. The second-team All-SoCon selection has been working out with former teammate and now Cleveland Browns' defensive back Buster Skrine to prepare for his moment, and many believed he made the most of it with a more-than-solid showing.

"This was the experience of a lifetime, really," Lewis-Harris said. "I just wanted to put up some good times and catch someone's attention. It was beneficial to have all these scouts out here for BJ because I'm not exactly a high-profile guy.

"I was still relaxed because I didn't have anything to lose."

Bradford was also pleased with his showing. The former McCallie standout knows he doesn't have the ideal size scouts are looking for, but caught a few eyes with a blazing, but unofficial, 4.43 in the 40-yard dash.

"It was a successful day," he said. "I woke up with butterflies, but I've been preparing for this over the past three months. I slipped a couple times, but it was a good day overall."

Now the waiting game begins as the countdown continues toward the NFL Draft, which will run from April 26-28.

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