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Wisconsin Pro Day 2014: Dezmen Southward shines

Despite being held out of last week's NFL Scouting Combine, Dezmen Southward turned some heads with a blazing 40-yard dash and an acrobatic 42-inch vertical jump.

Jake Kocorowski

Last week in Indianapolis was one of the most frustrating experiences former Wisconsin safety Dezmen Southward had to endure not only in his young career, but in his life.

Wednesday, he shined in front of the many NFL personnel scouting former Badgers at UW's pro timing day at the Dave McClain Center.

According to Wisconsin football's official Twitter handle, Southward ran an unofficial 4.35-second 40-yard dash and had former teammates and spectators in awe with a remarkable 42-inch vertical jump. Southward said he ran a low of 4.31 seconds and a high of 4.38 (both unofficial), which will help his draft stock heading into the private workout phase of the NFL draft preparation process.

"I know I could have went higher, maybe an inch or two, but 42 [inches], hey, I'll take it," Southward said with a smile.

So You Drafted a Badger

It was a welcomed set of results for Southward, who had to deal with an emotional, disappointing few days in Indianapolis. Just hours from participating in the NFL Scouting Combine, Southward received a text from the individual who ran the combine. That message stated he was being withheld from performing drills due to a fracture in his C5 vertebrae seen in his x-rays, an injury he never had heard about. The decision was made to rule him out for drills last Tuesday. Whether NFL team doctors or the combine doctors made the call is still unknown to Southward.

He and his agent sent x-rays to Dr. Bob Watkins, the same doctor who worked with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. Watkins noted there were no medical flags, the only diagnosis being a slight herniation in the C4, but Southward should've been cleared to participate.

"It was a tough couple days," Southward said. "Most importantly the rest of my life, I want to be healthy, be able to bend down, pick up my kids and play with them."

"Secondly, I wanted to compete. I wanted to give everything I had."

Though his numbers were impressive, Southward, who weighed in at 6'0 and 212 pounds, believes his performance at pro day and his versatility in the defensive backfield translate to the field well.

"At the end of the day, It shows I'm really explosive," Southward said. "It shows I can go out there and jump, explode and get out of my hips."

His former teammates were not surprised by his performance.

"I was expecting him to do it," said running back James White, who also was Southward's teammate back in high school at St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida.

"He's a guy that's freakishly athletic."

Borland, Allen perform well

All-Big Ten linebacker Chris Borland admitted he was not happy with his performance in Indianapolis last week. Though he didn't know his actual numbers, he was told he improved from his times at the combine.

He improved his vertical jump up to 35 inches, an improvement of 4 from last week. He also ran faster in his 40-yard dash, which was reportedly in the mid-4.7 seconds range. Coupled with a 6.75-second showing in the 3-cone drill, and it was a solid day for him.

"I didn't run my best in Indianapolis," Borland said. "I think I needed to do that."

Defensive linemen Beau Allen had a solid day, as well. He ran a 1.65-second unofficial 10-yard split, while bench pressing 225 pounds 30 times. He also had a vertical jump of 31 inches, which for a nose guard in the 320-to-330-pound range is impressive.

He'll be busy over the next couple of months, as per a source, Allen currently has a handful of private workouts for teams leading up to the draft in May.


  • Many NFL personnel showed up to watch the workouts, including the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos and Houston Texans. Plenty more were there.
  • Besides Allen, Borland and Southward, other Badgers who participated included Jacob Pedersen, Brian Wozniak, Ethan Armstrong, Ethan Hemer, Tyler Dippel, Pat Muldoon, Conor O'Neill, Jerry Ponio and UW-Whitewater's Cole Klotz (h/t to the Wisconsin State Journal's Tom Mulhern)
  • Jared Abbrederis, White and Ryan Groy did not participate in drills like the 40-yard dash, among others, but Abbrederis and White did work with a scout from the Oakland Raiders on passing routes.