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Tommy Bohanon's Strong Showing at the 2013 Combine

Posted Feb 19, 2015

FB Is One of a Number of Jets Who First Put Their Best Foot Forward at the Annual Indy Workouts

Jets fullback Tommy Bohanon, at 247 pounds, will never be mistaken for Stephen Paea, the Bears' 300-pound defensive tackle. Yet Tommy, like Stephen, is one of the NFL's strongmen.

Paea holds the unofficial title as the reigning 225-pound bench-presser at the combine when he lifted that weight an eye-popping 49 times at the 2011 workouts.

Bohanon, at his 2013 combine appearance, pressed 225 pounds 36 times, and while that figure won't appear in the top-10 list of overall combine efforts, it is still prodigious — it's the most reps for any running back at the combine since at least 2006.


"It was something I definitely wanted to do well in, because it was the only weightroom thing," Tommy told me this week before the 2014 combine testing begins at Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday. "It was something I knew I could definitely excel at and I was focused on doing well at that. I wanted to get 40 reps."

Bohanon knew he could do well at the 225 because he'd been a big lifter in high school and at Wake Forest. He reportedly has benched 550 pounds and squatted 700.

The combine tests are done by position. For the bench press in the Colts' Lucas Oil weightroom, Bohanon was joined by other future pros in Knile Davis, Mike James, Christine Michael, Zac Stacy, Le'Veon Bell and others in his RBs class.


"The tight ends had gone in right before us," Tommy recalled. "All the running backs got in the room and we were cheering each other on. It's just like a big brotherhood wanting everybody to do the best they could.

"Once you get to 30 reps, you're kind of exhausted. That's when you hear everybody yelling and cheering for you. It was very exciting."

What was the bench mark for backs? Such records are hard to pin down until around 1999, when combine performances began to be more formally recorded, and 2006, when the NFL started posting all the top combine figures on nfl.com. Tommy said the record he was shooting for was "either 33 or 34." Since '06, the best any RBs had done was 32 reps.


Bohanon muscled past 32, 33 and 34 before coming to a rest at 36. Heading into this weekend's workouts, that's still the best among backs in the past nine combines.

"My goal was to go in and break the record for running backs," he said. "It's something that I still think is a very great accomplishment for myself."

Yet he also knew he was not in Indy that February day just to win a weightlifting competition. He was on the draftable/free agent borderline and knew he needed to add more than just 36 reps to his résumé.

"The rest of the combine mostly went pretty well. I think I was either 36 or 36.5 inches in the vertical [actually 35.0], I had a pretty good broad jump [9'11"]," he recalled. "Then I tweaked my hamstring on my first 40. But it ended up that I did better on my 40 at my pro day. That was the only thing I redid."


Bohanon's combine plus his pro day, his interview skills and his Wake video as a burly blocking fullback who also knew how to catch and run with the ball when called on came together when the Jets took him with their seventh-round pick (215th overall).

He mentioned one very important lesson for all draft prospects at this time of year.

"It's a big evaluation process. That's what you have to take it as," he said. "You want to put your best foot forward and do the best you can do at the combine. That's the mindset — you have to train yourself to be more of a track guy just for those few months so you give your best performance. Then the biggest thing is to go right back into football mode. That's what you're trying to do is go to an NFL team."


Great combine performances are no guarantees (see Gholston, Vernon, and Hill, Stephen). But more than 300 job candidates out of college go to the combine each year, and many of them have done well and have gone on to play for the Green & White, from Nick Mangold in '06 through Nick Bellore (tied for fourth among all LBs with a 4.00 in the 20-yard shuttle in 2011), Demario Davis and Dee Milliner to Jace Amaro (28 reps, tied for second among all tight ends in last year's bench press).

The top showings by some of our current Jets and how they fit into combine position history can be found in the infographics placed throughout this story. Enjoy, and get ready for the 2015 participants who will be running, jumping, lifting, throwing, catching and cutting from Friday through Monday. In a few months, some of them will be Jets.



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