To his friends and family, James Kirkendoll is known as ‘Flash’ because of his speed.
Soon, professional coaches might be calling him the same thing after the former Texas wide receiver ran one of the country’s fastest times in the 40-yard dash Tuesday in Austin.
Performing in front of agents, media and representatives of all 32 NFL teams for the Longhorns’ professional timing day, Kirkendoll ran an official 4.32-second 40, the best time for any wideout in the current draft class.
“I answered a lot of questions people had for me,” he said afterward. “Really, I expected to run even faster.”
He might just have finished a few hundredths of a second quicker if he hadn’t come off the line too early on a number of attempts. He was called back for two false starts.
“I know he could’ve gone faster,” said Robin Kirkendoll, James’ older brother. “He might’ve been nervous after he scratched the first time.”
Robin and other family members were cheering James on when he ran the 4.32-second 40 in the Moncrief-Neuhaus athletic facility on his second of two attempts. The receiver was so confident that he requested, and was given, a third attempt in the 40, although he didn’t finish any faster.
“I’m very proud of him, not because he ran the 4.32 but because he set a goal, he went after it and he achieved it,” Robin said.
James stumbled on his first attempt in the 40 but still finished in 4.40 seconds. Another older brother, J.R., knew James had it in him to reach such speeds.
“It didn’t surprise me at all,” J.R. said. “But it’s still a big relief.”
The 4.32 time was the culmination of an offseason spent working hard but in relative obscurity. Despite leading Texas with 52 receptions last year, he hasn’t graded well in a wide receiver class full of standouts, such as Georgia’s A.J. Green and Alabama’s Julio Jones.
He moved to Houston after the season to train at Plex alongside other draft prospects such as Nick Fairley, Andy Dalton and Edmond Gates, who until Tuesday was the fastest receiver in the nation with a 40 time of 4.37 in the combine. James Kirkendoll also worked out with brother Robin, a certified personal trainer, and focused on his starting speed in the 40 and his explosiveness.
“We had to work on his form first,” Robin said. “We had to work on his start.”
James also cleared 11 feet in Tuesday’s broad jump and ran a 4.2-second 20-yard shuttle.
“I’m just going to keep training and keep working hard,” Kirkendoll said. “It’s a continual process.”
Another former Longhorn who was not invited to the combine, offensive lineman Michael Huey, put together a solid performance at the Texas pro day.
Huey completed 35 reps on the 225-pound bench press rep test, which would have placed him first in the 2011 combine amongst offensive linemen and tied for third overall.
“It was just exciting because that was the most out of any offensive lineman in the country,” he said. “That’s the exciting part.”
He also ran a flat five seconds in the 40-yard dash and showed impressive footwork in individual drills.
“It’s for you to put up great numbers and better yourself and show them I deserve to have a starting spot, or if anything, a job on a team,” he said.
Because of the NFL lockout, current pros were not allowed to interact with team representatives or participate in drills Tuesday, even to throw balls to the draft prospects. That meant, unless a draft-eligible replacement could be found, the offensive skill players would have to catch passes from a scout.
Enter Sherrod Harris, the former Texas quarterback who left the team last season and hadn’t played football in over a year.
Harris originally received a call Friday asking if he would be able to help the Texas players out.
“I was sitting at my computer, rebuilding a website when I heard from [former tight end] Greg [Smith],” Harris said.
Harris was on a business trip in Arizona but talked his boss into letting him leave early and fly to Texas. He arrived Tuesday morning and made it to the practice bubble at Denius Fields in time to throw to Kirkendoll, Smith, running back Vondrell McGee and wideout John Chiles.