The world will be reintroduced to former Cal running back Jahvid Best this week at the NFL scouting combine, but the biggest part of his audition in Indianapolis will take place behind closed doors.
Before Best takes the field at Lucas Oil Stadium to be tested in such drills as the 40-yard dash and vertical jump, he will go through rigorous physical examinations by NFL teams. That, more than anything else, may determine how high he is selected in April's NFL draft.
Best said he is fully healed from the gruesome fall he took Nov. 7 against Oregon State, one in which he suffered a severe concussion and a disk injury in his back. Those injuries forced Best to miss the remainder of Cal's season.
The Salesian High product has spent more than a month at Xtreme Performance Enhancement in Boca Raton, Fla., training with about 15 other players expected to be picked in this year's draft.
Best says he feels as fast and explosive as he ever has, but NFL teams surely still will want to put him through a thorough medical examination to confirm he is completely healthy.
"The medical part is important because he had injuries during his career, and the concussion," ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. said. "Had he finished out the year, I think he would have been a first-round draft choice. I think it's second round now for Best."
Most projections have Best going late in the first round or early in the second.
Best said his rehab didn't get going fully until around Christmas. He said he's spent his time in Florida doing the same training as all of the other prospects, plus some continued rehab on top of that.
"There hasn't been any change in the lifting or running or anything like that," Best said. "I'm doing everything like a normal athlete. I feel 100 percent. There's no problem."
Presuming Best passes his physical exams without incident, he could get back firmly into the first round with impressive performances on the field. When Best is healthy, he has the potential to test out as well as anyone in the country.
"What it comes down to is making sure that the teams have updated information directly from the doctors," said Tony Fleming, Best's agent. "We make sure each team has all the medical reports and things like that. If there are no red flags and he's healthy, there's no reason why he shouldn't go in the first round."
Best took a leap of faith of sorts when he decided to forgo his senior season and make himself eligible for the draft. At the time of the Jan. 2 announcement, he wasn't totally healed.
"I was fully confident that my body was going to heal up and I was going to be fine before I had to do any kind of workouts for the combine or my Pro Day or anything like that," Best said. "I feel like I'm getting faster now. I feel like I'm almost in the best shape of my life right now."
Former Cal star running back Jahvid Best will share his thoughts on his experience at the NFL scouting combine in a daily diary shared with Bay Area News Group. Look for his first entry from Indianapolis on Friday.