With strength, weight in question, ex-Husker Gregory plans to 'turn a lot of heads' at combine

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FILE - In a Sept. 6, 2014, file photo Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory wears street clothes before an NCAA college football game against McNeese State in Lincoln, Neb. Gregory is projected to be a high first-round pick in the NFL draft but knows he has much to prove, starting at the scouting combine in two weeks. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)


FILE - In this Oct. 25, 2014 file photo, Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory (4) warms up before an NCAA college football game against Rutgers in Lincoln, Neb. Gregory is projected to be a high first-round pick in the NFL draft but knows he has much to prove, starting at the scouting combine in two weeks. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)


OMAHA, Nebraska — For a man projected to be one of the first players taken in the NFL draft, Randy Gregory sure sounds like a guy who has something to prove.

The former Nebraska defensive end said Friday he's been training six hours a day for the scouting combine with an emphasis on increasing his strength.

"I'm going to turn a lot of heads at the combine," Gregory said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Gregory declared for the draft after his junior season ended in December. The two-time All-Big Ten first-team pick's calling card is as a pass rusher, which is a need for at least a half-dozen teams with early selections.

Gregory is highly regarded for his length and explosive speed. He said he would be most comfortable in a 3-4 defense, which would allow him to play outside linebacker rather than as a down lineman engaging an offensive tackle on every snap. Nebraska typically used a four-man front, with Gregory occasionally dropping to linebacker.

"I like standing up," he said. "It serves my body better, my physical traits better, being able to see the play form and stay in an athletic stance and make plays. At the same time, if a 4-3 team comes around, I feel I can help them and play that spot."

Among the concerns about Gregory, draft analysts have said, are his strength and ability to maintain weight.

He said he expects scouts to pay special attention to his bench press at the combine in two weeks. He said his goal is to bench 225 pounds at least 20 times.

"I will tell you everyone is not expecting for me to probably to do too well on it," he said, "but I think I'm going to surprise some folks. I know I am, actually."

Listed at 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds by Nebraska last season, Gregory said his weight fluctuated between 230 and 250 in college. He said he expects to weigh close to 250 at the combine and play at a minimum of 260 as a rookie.

How much does he weight now?

"That, my friend, I cannot tell you," he said.

Gregory had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee early last season, causing him to miss one game, and he said he sat out the Iowa game because of bronchitis and a hit to the head he took the week before against Minnesota. He said he is 100 percent now.

He downplayed his drop in statistical production. He had 10.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss in 13 games in 2013. He had seven sacks and 10 TFLs in 11 games last season.

"I know people get stuck (on) stats, and I had a pretty good sophomore year and maybe my stats went down my junior year," he said. "But if you look at the film, I think I was maybe a better, well-rounded player. Teams schemed against me, and it opened up for other players like Maliek Collins to make plays."

Gregory, who is from Fishers, Indiana, said he's honored and humbled to be considered one of the top draft prospects.

"I don't know what's going to happen," he said. "I just know that my main goal is to get to the combine, get to the draft and get on a team. I want to play right away, help a team right away, and I know I can."

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