By Ron Clements
For the Register
Tyrone Goard arrived at Lucas Oil Stadium ready to surprise some people.
“Teams think I’m going to run in that 4.6, 4.7 range, but I think I’ll be in that 4.3, 4.4 range,” the EKU senior wide receiver said Friday at the NFL Combine. “I’ve been working pretty hard to get my speed down. I’m here to surprise people.”
When he did run on Sunday, his official 40-yard dash time was 4.5 seconds, which is precisely the time his agent had predicted a night earlier.
Goard said he was electronically clocked at 4.32 at his training facility in Miami a couple weeks ago. The wide receivers ran the 40-yard dash at the combine on Sunday and Goard realizes the difference between a 4.3 40-yard dash and a 4.7 is “a lot of money.”
That kind of speed could push the 6-foot-4, 205-pound receiver up draft boards.
What hurt Goard was his inconsistency catching the ball. His hands were considered a question mark coming into the combine and he dropped several passes during Sunday’s on-field drills.
Along with his prototypical size, Goard cited his speed and communication skills as his strengths.
Communication is something he’s learned over the last couple of years while performing 150 hours of community service at a teen center as part of his punishment for an arrest when he was 20. A year after receiving an underage drinking ticket, Goard and a friend were arrested and charged with credit card fraud after they used a card found at a concert. While meeting with NFL teams this weekend, Goard had to explain the incidents every time, but insists that his troubles are behind him.
“It is something I regret, those two incidents, but my dad always told me you live and you learn,” Goard said. “I’ve definitely learned from it. It took a toll on my life.”
Goard’s path to the NFL Combine has not been easy. His only scholarship offer coming out of high school was from Eastern Kentucky.
Because of that, he arrived in Richmond with a chip on his shoulder.
Used to being the big man on campus in high school, being just one of the guys on the EKU football team was an adjustment.
Projected as a mid-round pick, Goard was the superstar player in high school and then became a backup who played sparingly during his first two seasons at EKU and considered transferring. That experience has prepared for him for what he’ll likely experience as an NFL rookie.
“It’s a whole new process,” he said Friday.
The first step of that process was being selected for the East-West Shrine Game. He couldn’t play in the game because of a tight hamstring, but thinks he proved during the week of practice that he belonged on the same field with some of the nation’s top players.
“I thought I did pretty good, compared to what everybody thought I was going to do,” Goard said. “Was running past them, speed, obviously, and I’ve got a long stride and they weren’t ready for it.”
His speed and size aren’t his only strengths — he also plays without fear and said he loves to go over the middle to catch passes.
“Football is a contact sport and I’m out there to play football, not to hold pom poms” Goard said. “It’s part of the sport and I’m there to take hits, do what I got to do.”
A new offensive system in 2011 allowed him to run fade routes and use his height and leaping ability to score.
“It gave me a chance to do something that I should’ve been doing a long time ago,” Goard said.
Goard displayed his big-play ability for the Colonels, averaging better than 18 yards per reception during his career. He had a remarkable 22 yards-per-catch average last season. Goard believes his speed and 36-inch vertical could make him a valuable weapon for NFL teams in and out of the red zone. His final two seasons were his most productive with more than 1,500 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns.
Goard didn’t think about an NFL future while at EKU, but now that it’s a possibility, he’s making every effort to make it a reality. Most scouts project Goard as a sixth or seventh-round pick, but Goard is confident he can be as high as a third-rounder.
“I think I can go anywhere between the third and fifth round, honestly,” Goard said. “The second round would be high hopes, but you never know. Just getting drafted would be blessing.”