Friday, March 6, 2009 | 2:10 a.m.
When Frank Summers recorded a vertical leap of 34.5 inches on Thursday afternoon, teammates and friends in attendance applauded.
When Frank Summers ran a 4.55 in the 40-yard dash, it wasn't just the scouts clicking stopwatches at the finish line. Also doing so were more than 20 current UNLV football players, checking with each other to see what time they clocked on their outstretched watches and cell phones.
When Frank Summers, winded from running routes on the field at Rebel Park moments earlier, put up 30 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press, the UNLV basketball players in the weight room took a break from their workouts and stood in awe, jaws dropped to their chests.
In the end, the former Rebels running back, now trying to make it to the NFL in any way possible, did exactly what he set out to do at UNLV's annual Pro Day.
"The scouts were here to see what I could do," the 5-foot-9, 240-pound bowling ball of a back said. "I treated this like a game situation. I got some good sleep last night, nice breakfast this morning. Anytime you're in a game, you compete and perform at your highest level always, play-in, play-out. And that's how I treated today."
Summers, along with several other graduating Rebels, underwent a litany of tests, with scouts from 12 NFL teams keeping tabs on all of it with stopwatches, pens and clipboards.
No one, though, put on a show like Summers did. He looked the part of a man ready for business, wearing a set of flashy black and silver adidas compression shorts, a shiny earring, a gold '4' medallion from his neck and a freshly-wound set of his signature braids on his head.
After suffering a knee injury in UNLV's season-ending loss at San Diego State on Nov. 22 in the game's opening series, he headed to Sarasota, Fla., where he's been training with Rich Lansky, owner and president of the Optimum Performance Training Institution.
The number of scouts on hand Thursday was a bump up from previous years, as was the number of current Rebels there to watch.
Summers was not invited to last month's NFL Combine in Indianapolis, and said he came in with a goal of topping the numbers posted by the 27 running backs invited to the event.
"I take any motivation possible, and that was obviously motivating," he said of the snub.
Several of those scouts made the trip to Rebel Park after Summers held an impressive week of practices leading up to the Texas vs. The Nation all-star game in El Paso on Jan. 31. In the game, he caught four passes for 55 yards and a 19-yard score, carried the ball once for 3 yards and also played on kickoff coverage.
"I think I pretty much let people know around the country that I'm a football player, no matter what happened last season with me, and I proved it out in Texas at the game," Summers said. "I can come in, take up three positions with one roster spot. I can play fullback, I can play tailback, obviously special teams, and I'm sure I can play defense if they need me there, too.
"That was my goal, to outdo the guys who went to the combine. I was able to see their numbers. I wasn't invited, so I came here to outdo them and I think I put myself in that category of the best of the best."
Summers' 4.55 time in the 40 was better than the times posted by 16 of the 23 backs who performed in Indianapolis. It should be noted, too, that those at the Combine had the luxury of running the event's signature test indoors, as opposed to the windy conditions Summers ran in Thursday.
His 34.5-inch vertical topped only three of the Combine participants, while his 9-foot, 5-inch broad jump was just a smidge shorter than all 10 of the distances marked off in Indy.
But where Summers blew everyone from the Combine away was on the bench press.
Summers had no time to rest after running a series of pass-catching drills on the field before wolfing down a banana -- for protein, of course -- and heading into the weight room. There, he hoisted 225 pounds 30 times, hardly struggling in the process. Of the 23 backs to lift in Indy, the highest total number of reps was 29.
Then again, Summers, is trying to make it into the league primarily as a fullback, compared to the backs at the Combine trying to get drafted as, well, running backs.
And if there's one team whose attention Summers caught more than anyone's as a fullback, it was the reigning Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers, who had two scouts on-hand alongside running backs coach Kirby Wilson.
The Steelers' staffers in attendance, after all of the players' running tests were completed, held Summers behind on the field to have him run a series of cone drills and pass-catching sets.
They wanted to see first-hand the soft and sure mitts that hauled in 36 passes during Summers' two seasons as a Rebel, which were a nice supplement to his 1,668 rushing yards.
After his first grab, a pass to the flat, he turned, grunted and sprinted downfield.
Wilson told him upon returning to the formation that he didn't have to worry about finishing each route after the catch.
Summers paid it no mind, running at least 20 yards, full speed, following each snag. He caught every catchable ball thrown his way.
At one point, one scout said, under his breathe, 'He's a junior Bus', referring to sure-fire Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis, who helped carry the Steelers to a win in Super Bowl XL over Seattle in 2006 to cap his brilliant 13-year career.
That extra effort, combined with Summers' preparation and execution, earned him several handshakes from the scouts upon completing his bench reps.
Now, he'll stay mostly in Las Vegas, where he plans on watching the NFL Draft on April 25 and 26.
He said he'll drop everything to go work out for teams individually if such trips are requested between now and then. And on draft day, he'll hope for a phone call from anyone delivering some good news.
Certainly, an even louder buzz will set off around the league regarding Summers after the champs worked him out in front of 11 other franchises.
But there's no question the added attention from the Steelers perked him up.
"It gave me a lot of confidence that I'm doing something right and I'm on the right track," he said. "And hopefully I can pick up my phone on draft day and (Wilson) will be calling me."
Pro Day Notes ...
Former receiver Casey Flair, who was eclipsed by Wolfe late in the season as the school's all-time leading pass catcher, ran a 4.60 in the 40-yard dash ... Former safety Jay Staggs, who exhausted his eligibility following the 2006 season, participated and impressed. He recorded a vertical leap of 36 inches and put up 30 reps on the bench press at 225 pounds ... Former defensive tackle Jacob Hales was forced to watch with a heavy boot around his left ankle. He said a pair of tendons in his ankle were torn towards the end of the 2007 season and required surgery. However, he suffered from an infection following the operation, and now has an IV inside of his left biceps at all times, which he hooks into a machine daily to feed antibiotics into his chest. He had doctors reports with him showing that he is close to a full recovery, and still plans on pursuing a career in pro ball.