Signing fast players has been the main objective of coaches in the Southeastern Conference for years.
Athletes that can change the momentum of a contest in the blink of an eye are highly coveted every signing class and it’s very unlikely that will ever change.
Speed, and changing directions in an instant, is what Lafayette running back D.K. Buford does well. The rising junior has been making plays for a couple of seasons on the gridiron for the Commodores and now his speed is starting to get noticed by college recruiters.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Buford turned a lot of heads this past Saturday at the Scout.com Southeast Select Combine at Tupelo High School when he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.22 seconds. According to Water Valley defensive coordinator Richard Russo, who was working that drill and timing players throughout the day, it was the fastest time at the combine hosted annually by Scout.com’s Steve Robertson ever and the fastest time he had ever seen run in person.
The athlete that had the previous best time in the 40 was former Bruce and Northwest Mississippi Community College standout Jamaal Jackson, who Russo clocked at 4.39. Jackson then went on to play cornerback at Texas Tech after playing for the Rangers.
Lafayette coach Eric Robertson wasn’t at the combine, but he heard about Buford’s fantastic showing and even he was a bit surprised with the end result.
“I guess a 4.22 surprises anybody. We had timed him out here a week or so before that and he had run a 4.34. We didn’t know how accurate it was, but we knew it was pretty accurate because two coaches timed him,” Robertson said Thursday. “I know D.K. is fast, but you just don’t know how fast until you time him. D.K. has been working on his 40. Coach (Ben) Mikell, our track coach, has worked with him some. I was glad to hear it. I’m not totally surprised, but any time you hear 4.22 that catches your eye.”
Buford left Lafayette County last Saturday without a Division I offer. He now has two, from Ole Miss and Mississippi State, and almost certainly will have more in time.
“It’s always good when you have kids that have an opportunity to play at the next level and get offers. We’re glad for D.K. and we just hope he continues to improve and get better and I know he will. He’s going to work,” Robertson said. “Now that he has those offers he can just concentrate on Lafayette. I told him he didn’t have to worry about scholarships any more, he’s just got to worry about championships and all that will take care of itself. He is a really focused kid. I know you worry about all this attention just being a rising junior, but he’s mature enough to handle it.”
Buford, who will be attending Ole Miss’ invitation-only camp today, was also surprised with the outstanding time.
“It did surprise me because I didn’t think I was going to run that fast. I thought I would run a 4.3, 4.34 or something like that,” Buford said. “They looked at it and then they told him (Steve Robertson) and the guy wanted to see it for himself and I ended up running it again. It was 4.28 and then it was a 4.22. It made me feel good.”
Russo said Buford’s first time was 4.28, then 4.26 and then he finished with a 4.22.
“Right now I’m excited but I’m still just a junior in high school. I want to finish out these last two years and then look into (playing D-I). I’m going to look at it about next summer. I’m trying to play football right now,” said Buford, who added he was coming to Ole Miss’ camp to prove to people he could play football. “I want to show people I can play football and I’m not just fast. I want to prove my point to people.”
Mack shines as well
Another Commodore who turned some heads at the combine was rising senior Brandon Mack (6-1, 180). Mack ran a 4.5 in the 40, as well as a 4.1 in the pro shuttle, which Russo said would place him in the top 10 percent of all the players who went to the combine.
“We feel like Brandon is the most athletic player on our team. He ran a 4.5 over at Tupelo which is a solid time. I’m not sure who it’s going to be yet, but somebody is going to get a real solid player in Brandon Mack,” Robertson said.
Buford said he was impressed with how Mack performed as well.
“To be a quarterback, a high school player anyway, to run a 4.5 is good to me,” Buford said.
“I think I did pretty well. I knew I would be in a 4.5 range. I’ve been working on trying to get my 40 down. I think if I get it down, I’ll get some scholarships,” added Mack, who will also be at Ole Miss’ camp today and go through drills as a wide receiver and cornerback. “I’ve been told when I get to college I’m probably going to play safety. That’s where I want to play, free safety.”
Last season Buford finished with 561 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 52 carries. He also caught 13 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns. Mack, meanwhile, led Lafayette with 23 catches for 502 yards and seven touchdowns. He also saw time at quarterback, the position he will play this year on offense, and finished with six interceptions, eight pass breakups and 39 tackles on defense.
(Editor’s Note: Picture provided courtesy of Chris Brooks of Mississippi Gridiron).
–firstname.lastname@example.org (June 1, 2012, Page 7A)