War Eagle Extra

Defensive back Blake Countess uses combine snub as motivation on impressive pro day

Blake Countess’ success in college football’s top conferences wasnn’t enough to earn him an invite to this year’s NFL scouting combine.

The former Auburn defensive back thought about being snubbed as he spent the last two months preparing for the program’s pro day.

“Absolutely,” Countess said. “As a competitor you want to be in those places; you want to be able to compete with the best. To not get an invite is definitely a motivator. You have to control what you can control and just keep moving forward.”

On Monday, the added motivation paid off for the Michigan graduate transfer in front of scouts from 31 teams.

“It was a solid day,” Countess said. “I hit most of my marks. I was pleased with that. It was a solid day overall.”

Countess’ modest description of his performance didn’t tell the whole story. The versatile defender had the best overall day of the 14 former Tigers players invited to the event.

After measuring in at 5-foot-9 and 184 pounds, Countess had a 36 1/2 inch vertical jump, a 10’1’’ broad jump and 21 reps on the bench press. Countess was one rep shy of his personal record on the bench press. The 21 reps at 225 pounds would have tied him for first place at the NFL combine in his position group.

“I think it was real important,” Countess said of the bench press. “That’s what I expected of myself, 20-plus. I think it was a good thing to really showcase that and put it on display for everyone to see.”

Countess ran an unofficial hand-timed 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash. It was the top time of the 10 players who ran the drill at Auburn’s athletic complex.

“I felt like I would’ve been top three performers (at the combine) in more than one drill,” Countess said. “That was my goal. You have to compete, even when you’re not around. I wasn’t there, but I’m competing here.”

Countess’ pro day put a bow on his brief yet productive stint on the Plains. Auburn didn’t quite match the pre-season championship expectations it had as a team, but Countess was a valuable contributor in his final year of eligibility the minute he stepped on campus.

“Blake is a football player,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “He is a football player from the word go. From what he did for us, he played safety, corner, nickel. He was one of our best special teams players. He’ll be somebody that is a very good football player at the next level.”

Countess had a career-high 71 tackles, 2.5 for a loss, with two interceptions and 11 pass breakups starting all of Auburn’s 13 games.

“Auburn has been great to me,” Countess said. “Before I got here, we had a plan about what I wanted to do, and we executed that plan, from special teams to playing multiple positions on defense and playing at a high level. I was definitely pleased with the way Auburn handled things and I think I definitely helped myself this year.”

Auburn coaches and players voted Countess as the team’s defensive MVP at the program’s year-end banquet.

“I’m glad we wound up getting him to come to Auburn for his senior year,” Jonathan Jones said. “We ended up needing him. He was able to step in at a lot of positions for us that we needed. He’s a great player and great athlete.”

Countess wouldn’t make any predictions on his chances in April’s draft — NFLDraftscout.com has Countess projected as an undrafted free agent — but sounds optimistic about his chances landing on an NFL roster.

“I’ve heard from a few teams,” Countess said. “I have some meetings set up later on today, and it’s an ongoing process. It’s my first time going through it; you guys probably know better than me, so it’s an ongoing process. I’m going home tonight. I’ll be home training, just staying on top of things.”