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Former Tigers showcase their talents at Pro Day

<p>Former Tiger quarterback Riley Ferguson gets ready to throw a pass. The NFL prospect worked out for scouts at the University of Memphis Pro Day on Tuesday.</p>
Former Tiger quarterback Riley Ferguson gets ready to throw a pass. The NFL prospect worked out for scouts at the University of Memphis Pro Day on Tuesday.

NFL scouts from all 32 teams gathered at the Billy J. Murphy Complex on Tuesday afternoon to watch 13 Memphis football players go through a series of drills in preparation for the NFL Draft later this month. Among those who participated in the event were quarterback Riley Ferguson, linebacker Genard Avery and wide reciever Anthony Miller.

After originally being just the 234th-ranked wide receiver prospect coming out of Christian Brothers High School, Miller went on to become the school’s all-time leading receiver. He recorded at least 90 catches, 1,400 total yards and 10 touchdowns in each of his last two seasons for the Tigers. 

Miller was in good spirits Tuesday following his impressive performance, where he recorded an unofficial 40-yard dash time of 4.48 seconds and a vertical jump of 39 inches, despite coming off a Jones fracture injury he suffered during the Tigers’ AutoZone Liberty Bowl loss to Iowa State last season.

“Today was pretty good,” Miller said to reporters following the event. “I believe I performed how I thought I would. I surprised myself in a few areas, especially in the vertical, 39, that blew me away.”

Miller said he worked on explosiveness and heard he ran a variety of different speeds. Overall, he said he was satisfied with his performance. While he was recovering from his injury, he said he has been working hard and even changed his diet.

Miller had a moment where he laid in the end zone on the field and had to stretch and be worked out by trainers, as he had some cramps in his legs. Despite that, he reiterated he is completely healthy.

“The foot is 100 percent,” Miller said. “I was actually cleared before the combine, and I went to the doctor just last week to confirm everything is okay.”

Miller also revealed to reporters he may have a meeting scheduled with the Carolina Panthers next week.

“I spoke with Carolina, and I am set to go there for a visit next week,” Miller said. “Other teams have contacted me, and y’all will find out who those teams are soon enough.”

Miller said he thinks wherever he lands, he will bring “intensity” to that organization. 

“I motivate others to be the best they could be,” Miller said. “I believe I bring a winning culture to any team I come to. I believe any team I come across that may pick me will have a chance because I will give it all I got.” 

Riley Ferguson is coming off two stellar seasons with the Tigers, during which he threw for 70 touchdowns and nearly 8,000 yards. He also finished his career with a completion percentage of 63 percent and a passer rating of 157.1. It is safe to say he has come a long way since his arrival to Memphis, where there were questions of whether or not he could fill the shoes of former Tiger and NFL first rounder Paxton Lynch.

Ferguson said he just wanted to get stronger in preparation for the draft.

“Early on, a lot of them (team scouts) wanted me to get my weight up because at the East/West All-Star game I was 196 (pounds),” Ferguson said. “They haven’t said anything else to me when I showed up to the combine at 212. I think I’m good where I’m at. I was 213 today, so I think I’m good.”

Like Miller, Ferguson will also have a meeting with the Carolina Panthers this week.

“Friday, I have a meeting with the Carolina Panthers, and I had a couple other meetings yesterday as well with the Steelers and the Bengals,” Ferguson said.

Ferguson said he thinks it would be “crazy” if the Panthers chose him in the draft.

“It’s my hometown team, so it would definitely be crazy because that’s where I grew up rooting for,” Ferguson said. “It would be unbelievable.”

While the Tigers have made waves as a high-scoring offensive team during the past few seasons, Genard Avery has anchored the defense during that same time period, becoming one of the best playmakers in the American Athletic Conference. He finished his career with 230 solo tackles and 8.5 sacks.

Avery said he has really “enjoyed” his time with the Tigers, but he is ready to take the next step into the pro ranks.

“I came out here and worked hard hoping to show what I have to offer in the NFL,” he said.

Ferguson, Miller and Avery will hope to hear their name called at the podium when the NFL Draft begins April 26.

Caleb Hilliard and Joshua A. Vinson contributed to this story.

Former Tiger quarterback Riley Ferguson gets ready to throw a pass. The NFL prospect worked out for scouts at the University of Memphis Pro Day on Tuesday.

Wide receiver Anthony Miller prepares to catch a pass during drills. Miller, quarterback Riley Ferguson and linebacker Genard Avery were the main players scouts came to see.

Former Memphis linebacker Genard Avery works out for scouts at the University of Memphis NFL Pro Day. Avery, quarterback Riley Ferguson and wide receiver Anthony Miller were the main players scouts came to see.

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