Jawanza Starling Looks Ahead to NFL Combine


Jawanza Starling is one of six former USC Trojans to head to this week’s NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The safety has a 4th to 7th round draft projection and comes off a senior season at USC that saw him make 42 total tackles and tally three interceptions, in addition to forcing a critical fourth quarter fumble at Washington.

Starling, who stands in at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, is currently training under the guidance of former USC Trojan and NFL tight end Billy Miller, at The Elite Performance Factory in Westlake Village.

Like with most prospective NFL draftees, it comes down to the measurables, of which the NFL Combine tends to sensationalize. Where can Starling improve, though?

“Flexibility, back pedaling, and getting my 40-time down,” said Starling in a phone interview over the weekend.

“I really just need to work on getting off my brakes.”

As for the 40-yard dash, Starling has a benchmark that he’ll be aiming for both at the NFL Combine and at next month’s Pro Day at USC. “I’m just trying to improve, and to get the 40-time down anything under 4.6, and in the 4.5 range,” said Starling. “Running a 4.4 is optimal, but a 4.5 good for me.”

In terms of football skills, Starling maintained that the goal is to play with the ball skills of Ed Reed and run support presence of Troy Polamalu. He made big strides while at USC, though he said he’ll continue to use those two future Hall of Famers as on-field role models.

Starling, like fellow defensive backs T.J. McDonald and Nickell Robey, who are training in Irvine and Houston respectively, leaves big shoes to fill back at USC. He’s confident in the ability of the Trojans’ Class of 2013, however.

“USC is always going to have athletes and the talent is always is going to be there,” said Starling. “It’s how it mixes between coaches and players, and I don’t see anything but satisfactory performance, as it’s in the Trojan’s DNA to be great.”

The NFL Combine begins begins on February 20 and runs through February 26, with significant television coverage on the NFL Network.

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