Stephen Paea shatters combine bench-press mark

Oregon State DT Stephen Paea broke the NFL Scouting Combine’s 225-pound bench-press record Sunday with a stunning 49 repetitions.

Paea, who told reporters he notched 48 reps Monday, broke the previous mark of 45, set in 2000 by Texas-El Paso’s Leif Larsen, which was tied in 2006 by Ohio State DE Mike Kudla, then again at last year’s combine by Arkansas guard Mitch Petrus.

“I’ve been blessed the last couple months to prepare for this event,” Paea said about 45 minutes after the lift. The 6-foot-1, 303-pounder later added: “I think I could go back and do another one.”

Paea, who can bench a max of 550 pounds, according to his bio, expressed pride in the coaches and trainers who prepared him.

Paea has an interesting back story. He grew up playing rugby in Tonga and didn’t pick up football until moving to the United States at 16. He played high school football in Provo, Utah, then attended Snow Junior College in nearby Ephraim for one year before landing at Oregon State.

Paea, rated as Mike Mayock’s No. 5 defensive tackle, was invited to the Senior Bowl last month, but he couldn’t participate while recovering from a damaged lateral meniscus in his right knee.

Here are the top bench-press results at the combine since 2000:

Paea: 49

Petrus: 45

Kudla: 45

Larsen: 45

Jeff Owens, DT, Georgia (2010): 44

Brodrick Bunkley, DT, Florida State (2006): 44

Scott Young, G, BYU (2005): 43

Tank Tyler, DT, North Carolina State (2007): 42

Isaac Sopoaga, DT, Hawaii (2004): 42