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John DeShazier: Tulane's Ade Aruna trying to make lasting impression on NFL scouts

Saints Road to the Draft coverage is presented by Dixie Light

Take a look at photos from Tulane Football Pro Day 2018 during "Road to the Draft" presented by Dixie Light at Ochsner Sports Performance Center on April 3, 2018.

Ade Aruna has some catching up to do, and he knows it.

The Tulane defensive end only has been playing football for five, six years, compared to players who have been in the game since they were five or six years old.

There's a gap to close, so it's probably a good thing that he ran an impressive 4.6-40 at the NFL Combine, and continued to attempt to impress NFL personnel Tuesday in the Oschner Sports Performance Center during Tulane's Pro Day.

Aruna was one of eight Tulane players from last years' team, plus several former Tulane players and players from other local colleges and universities, attempting to make a lasting impression on the scouts and front office personnel in attendance.

"I went to Combine, to start to prove to people I can play football, said Aruna, a 6-foot-6, 262-pounder from Akure, Nigeria. "I'm just coming here to do the same thing, show them what I can do."

Aruna had three sacks, a fumble recovery and 25 tackles last season, after registering five sacks, 10 tackles for loss and 43 tackles as a junior. He said a different role led to lower numbers during his senior season.

"Last year was my last year of playing football for Tulane," he said. "I just wanted to go to the bowl game, I wanted to change the culture. So being in a different scheme put me in a lot of positions. Every year I learned new stuff.

"These were challenges for me and I don't shy away from it, I just learn from it and keep going. It wasn't all about me, it was about the team. I wanted us to go to the bowl game so any scheme the coaches think is going to get us better to be able to win more games, I'm all in for it."

Aruna said that NFL teams have wanted to get a grasp of his understanding of the game.

"The only one thing I need to improve on that I know, just be a student of the game," he said. "I'm not like these guys that have been playing football since they were five, six years (old). Sometimes, that shows up in the game.

"They might be able to read the defense better than me sometimes, and that kind of slows me down. I think that's the only thing I need to improve on, just show people when I see an offense, I can say what it's about to do and get a better understanding of the offense."

He said that when quizzed on situations and schemes, he has shown that he has a growing grasp of the game.

"Any time they put me on the board, I get it on out there. Most of the time, I don't give myself more credit than I should. That's how I am; I would like to humble myself. Not like I don't know anything, (but) try to feed off people and see what they've got. But when they see me all day, they were like, 'Oh, you know way better than what we thought you knew. You have a better understanding of the offense.' I can line up 22, 11 personnel – I can do everything.

"They just want to know how I can read the offense. Do I know what I'm doing? OK. If it's 4-3 (defense), if I have a tight end on my side, what am I supposed to do? What's my alignment? They want to make sure I know all that. I play defensive end. There's so much you're doing playing defensive end. (You) play first down, second down, third down, go get the quarterback."

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