Vinson, Steeple await draft

April 23, 1994|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun Staff Writer

Tony Vinson and Matt Steeple had drastically different experiences on the football field last fall. This weekend, they will be nervously anticipating the same phone call.

The NFL conducts its annual draft tomorrow and Monday. Vinson and Steeple, the area's outstanding seniors last year, stand solid chances of being picked Monday during the final five rounds of the two-day, seven-round draft.

"It's been a long week already, and it's going to be a very long two days," said Vinson, a running back at Towson State.

"These days are nervous times," said Steeple, a defensive tackle at Morgan State. "The main thing is to find things to do to take your mind off of it [the draft]. Lots of people are pulling for me."

Vinson and Steeple, who were invited to the NFL Scouting Combines in Indianapolis three months ago, have reached this anxious point by different paths.

Vinson, a 6-foot-2, 227-pound running back with the size and speed to get a scholarship at Purdue five years ago, transferred after two seasons to Towson State. There, he spent two years tearing up opposing defenses, not to mention school and Division I-AA record books.

He capped his Towson State career with an impressive senior season, rushing for 2,016 yards and leading Towson State to an 8-2 record, its best as a Division I program. The Tigers barely missed qualifying for the national playoffs. Vinson set 15 school records and 11 Division I-AA records. He also finished third in the voting for the Walter Payton Award, which recognizes the nation's top I-AA player.

Steeple, a 6-3, 297-pound defensive tackle, was the bright spot for the past four years on a struggling Morgan State team. Last year, the Bears went 2-9, and their defense surrendered 32.6 points and 513 yards per game. But Steeple concluded a fine career with 117 tackles, including 70 solo tackles and 10 sacks.

Vinson and Steeple were named to The Associated Press Division I-AA All-America team.

Steeple, a graduate of Northern High in Baltimore, has impressed NFL scouts with his size, strength and agility. At Indianapolis, he bench-pressed 225 pounds 26 times and ran the 40-yard -- in 5.2 seconds. Since then, he has worked out for about a dozen teams, some of which have considered him as an offensive lineman.

Thursday, Steeple worked out for the Washington Redskins, and he ran the 40-yard -- in 4.9 seconds.

"It's hard to say where Matt fits in. So many teams are keeping a low profile," said Brian Mackler, his New York-based agent. "But the fact that he is such a big, strong athlete and is being looked at on both sides of the ball can only help him."

Vinson had a more unsettling winter. A week before heading to Mobile, Ala., to play in the Senior Bowl in January, he pulled a hamstring running the 55-yard -- for the indoor track team. He carried the ball twice in the Senior Bowl, and two weeks later, he aggravated the injury in Indianapolis.

"I think I overworked. I paid for it by hurting the hamstring again," said Vinson, who limited his running for six weeks after the Senior Bowl.

Since last month, Vinson has worked out for about 10 NFL teams, and the six-week rest has paid dividends. He has been clocked several times between 4.4 and 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard --. He has scouts considering him as a fullback or halfback.

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