Travis Goethel, Mike Nixon and Kyle Williams turned in impressive performances Friday in Arizona State's Pro Day at Sun Devil Stadium, but the most telling development had nothing to do with anything they or others did on the field.
Unless you were an NFL scout, what stood out more than anything else was the number of returning Sun Devils -- estimated to be near half the team's scholarship players -- who showed up on a school day to support their former teammates, and the collective mood of those in attendance.
With quarterbacks Brock Osweiler and Steven Threet, and a majority of the offensive skill players looking on, and many, if not most of the anticipated defensive starters also on the field, the mood was more than pleasant. It was downright jovial.
But there was still business to attend to.
A dozen or so former Sun Devils participated on the day, including several who have been out of the program for more than a year: Ryan Torain, Keno Walter-White, Andrew Carnahan. None of the three did anything particularly of note in the testing phase of the day, with Torain turning in 4.6 range 40-yard times as he attempts to again make an NFL roster after being plagued by injuries.
The day's top performers were unquestionably Goethel, Nixon and Williams. In the testing segment, the surprise of the day was Goethel's 40-yard dash times, one of which came in the mid-to-high 4.5 second range depending on which pro scout's stop watch you used.
Goethel worked at linebacker and fullback in position work and was solid in each aspect. He said the 40 yard dash run was even better than he had anticipated in his workouts leading up to Friday.
"I knew it was possible," Goethel said. "I got really good starts on both of them and felt good running so I'm not totally surprised by it. It's about the fastest I've done in my training (for the day) but I used to run faster in high school, of course I [weighed less] then too."
"The Cowboys talked to me about trying me at fullback in addition to linebacker so I figured it'd give it a shot and see what happens. I feel good about how today went to hopefully something happens. I worked hard training for this at ASU every day the last few months and that paid off. I had to come out and show off all my stuff."
Williams said he has spent about six hours a day for three months preparing his body and even though he had an impressive showing at the NFL combine last month, he still had more to prove, and responded with a 40-yard dash time in the low-to-mid 4.3 second range and a 4.10 shuttle run.
"It wasn't originally my plan to do anything else (other than position work) but getting around these guys you want to compete again, see all these faces. So I hopped into everything," Williams said.
"I don't think you should ever be complacent or satisfied with what you're doing. I've been working with the combine so I don't see why not. Come out and compete with your guys and hopefully it translates and today it did."
Nixon turned in a 40-time in the high 4.6s to low 4.7s, and was impressive in every phase he participated in until a hamstring injury that has been lingering reportedly became aggravated. His performance might not get him drafted, but there is a real chance Nixon could earn a camp opportunity as a result of his measured performance Friday.
"I was pretty anxious to get out here," Carr said. "I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and my testing probably could have been a little better as far as the measureables but once we get out here and play football as far as position drills I feel I did pretty good. A couple coaches came and gave me a pat on the back which felt pretty good. It's something to build on from here."
Former ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, threw to receivers and defensive backs in their position work and was very impressive with terrific accuracy.
Receiver Chris McGaha did not participate due to a lingering hamstring injury.