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Porter ready for draft

by John Raby

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

CHARLESTON -- Jerry Porter didn't become a full-time wide receiver last year at West Virginia until the sixth game. Yet he's right up there with other potential first-round draft picks in Saturday's NFL draft.

How'd that happen?

Try 21 yards per catch, a 44-inch vertical leap and impressive offseason workouts. Some scouts list Porter among the top 30 players available in the draft.

Porter made the most of his 15 receptions in 1999. His 311 receiving yards ranked fourth on the team. He also caught a touchdown pass in the East-West Shrine game in January.

"The change from safety to receiver was a couple million-dollar change," said Porter, who plans to have his cell phone handy when he attends

Saturday's Blue-Gold scrimmage in Morgantown.

It's what he did in front of scouts that put him in a good position on Saturday.

For starters, he's 6-foot-2, 221 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.34 seconds. He runs precision routes. He's got huge hands.

His stock might be even higher had he played wide receiver his entire career. He caught 13 passes in 1997 before being moved to defensive back for the next 17 games.

"I'd have rather played receiver the whole time to see what kind of accolades I might have won," Porter said. "From Day One, I said receiver. I went around the world, but I finally got to receiver."

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had shown interest in making Porter the 27th pick of the first round -- until they agreed to sign pro bowl receiver Keyshawn Johnson on Tuesday.

It's been a decade since a Mountaineer was selected in the first round. Porter isn't picky about when he's taken.

"I really don't look into it. I'm going to let it come and let everything happen and try not to even think about it," he said.

Two other former WVU players have high hopes of being taken early.

Linebacker Barrett Green is considered among the top 10 linebackers available. One scouting service has him listed even with Virginia Tech all-American Corey Moore.

Green played both defensive back and linebacker in college and could end up on the defensive line.

Former WVU tight end Anthony Becht is considered by some to be among the top two tight ends available, the other being Miami's Bubba Franks. Becht had an injury-filled senior season.

There are a dozen Mountaineers available this year, along with former WVU quarterback JaJuan Seider, who had a standout year at Florida A&M and is enrolled for spring classes in Morgantown.

Others available players are quarterback Marc Bulger; defensive tackles Ryan Brady and Greg Robinette; fullback Anthony Green; kicker Jay Taylor; and defensive backs Boo Sensabaugh, Gary Thompkins, Nate Terry and Scooter Davis.

Bulger is considered among the top 10 quarterback prospects, but far below Marshall's Chad Pennington, considered to be the top QB available. Bulger's injury-plagued 1999 season lowered his draft potential.

To improve his status, Bulger spent a month over the winter working out in Arizona.

"I want as many quarterbacks as possible taken as fast as possible, because then teams have to rush to get a quarterback," he said.

Getting drafted doesn't always equate to success.

Last year, six WVU players were selected, among them Charles Fisher, who suffered a career-threatening knee injury in his first game with the Cincinnati Bengals.

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