KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Derek Barnett had a pep in his step.
So did the rest of his teammates at the University of Tennessee, who gathered for one final time here at the school's pro day.
With a 50-yard bomb from quarterback Josh Dobbs to receiver Josh Malone, it's safe to say it ended with a bang.
"It was a lot of fun,'' Dobbs said. "It is your last hurrah with your guys … and you want to go out on a great note. I was glad to go out like this. It was a great experience for all of us."
Barnett, a former star at Brentwood Academy who set Tennessee's all-time career sacks record with 33, showed his explosiveness in drills, and also his strength as he annihilated tackling dummies. The talented defensive lineman battled through a hamstring injury before NFL scouts, and looked good doing so.
"My energy, I was smiling,'' said Barnett, who battled flu-like symptoms at the NFL Combine. "It felt good to feel like myself, to have some pep in my step going through these drills.
"This is a dream come true for all of us, trying to get to the NFL."
A total of 20 former Vols took part in the school's pro day, including the six who went to the combine – Dobbs, Barnett, running back Alvin Kamara, defensive back Cam Sutton, receiver Josh Malone and linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin. Former Vols running back Alton "Pig" Howard also put his skills on display, and so did Robert Meachem, who played from 2007-2014 with the Saints and is now trying to get back on the radar of NFL teams.
He came to the right place.
Representatives from all 32 NFL teams were on hand, including a large contingent from the Titans. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin sat in the stands observing drills. NFL logos were everywhere.
"It is a great day for the University of Tennessee, our football program, but really for these individuals, that is what it is all about,'' Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "The way they competed, the way they showcased their skills, I am just very, very proud. … It's been the talk of all of college football and really the National Football League, Tennessee's Pro Day today.
NFL prospects work out during the University of Tennessee's Pro Day on Friday, March 31, 2017, in Knoxville, Tenn. (Photos: AP, Jim Wyatt)
"It can be an intimidating environment when you have over 89-plus representatives from the (NFL), but they embraced it."
Dobbs showed off his arm in drills. He looked sharp on short to intermediate throws, and threw a strike to Malone on the final play of a five hour-plus day.
"That was nice,'' Malone said with a smile.
Kamara, wearing cheetah print cleats, did nothing to hurt his rising draft stock. He looked explosive, and he caught the football with ease coming out of the backfield. He lined up wide, and looked like a natural.
"I tried to loosen the guys up and have some fun,'' Kamara said. "(I wanted to show) explosiveness, hands, clean routes, hips. It was fun. It's just a part of the journey."
Sutton didn't run the 40 after being satisfied with his time at the combine. Neither did Kamara. Barnett posted an unofficial time of 4.89, which he wasn't happy with, but his game tape should be the focus when he's being evaluated.
Titans linebackers coach Lou Spanos put Barnett and Reeves-Maybin through linebacker drills.
"All the guys that came out here and competed, they looked very well, all the positions,'' Sutton said. "I thought everyone ran well, they tested well. It was a great experience for all of us."
At the end of the day, some NFL scouts pulled players aside for another chat.
Some players hugged as they made their way out the door of the school's indoor practice facility.
"Today is kind of a conclusion for them," Jones said. "As Mike Tomlin said, it's kind of the end, where they are teammates for one more day and then they go their separate ways and they are going to be on different teams competing against each other."