By Brian DeMarco
Its NFL Draft Day! Its exciting for the fans of this great game. We wait eagerly to see who our favorite team is going to pick to turn things around, or maintain our superiority. For players it is one of the most exciting days of their lives. Every game of catch you ever played with your dad, every day of grueling off season training, every season you played…all comes down to today.
Let me set the “way back” machine to April of 1995. I left the snowy tundra that is Lansing, Michigan (MSU) and moved to Phoenix, Arizona after the season. I moved there to be close to my agent and live, eat and breathe preperation for “a shot” at the NFL. I can’t tell you how many times I ran Camel Back Mountain that year!
Getting to draft day is a huge feat.
Players have been training nonstop since they started preparing for their senior season. I went from my senior season at Michigan State in 1994 to the Blue/Grey All-Star game, then a few weeks later to the Senior Bowl. From the Senior Bowl I then prepared for the NFL combine, then MSU’s Pro Day. Once I was wrapped up with that it was off to take individual trips to team head quarters, that just might be your future home.
Then comes Draft Day! I can’t tell you how special it was to even be considered. Guys dream about this day their entire lives. It’s is no doubt a huge blessing to be in the conversation. Personally, it was everything I could do to keep calm, cool and collected. In 1995 I was projected anywhere from middle first round to second round. No question I was hopeful to be a first round draft pick, but honestly I knew that I had done all could do to prepare myself at this point, and it was out of my hands.
Starting at pick eighteen I got my first call from the Cleveland Browns. I remember the browns telling me, “we’re thinking of taking you with this pick.” Then soon after they picked up a linebacker out of Ohio State. The Browns then said, “if your still on the board we’ll pick you up with the next pick.” I went through this process with three other teams throughout the first round.
Stressful, disappointing, exciting, ridiculously fun, all wrapped up in one day.
My eyes where glued to ESPN with eager anticipation to find out where home would be.
Once the last pick of the first round was made I was…let’s just say I had to remove myself from the room and ESPN for a bit. I went outside and said some great big prayers in hopes that I would soon be picked up. I really didn’t care where. I just wanted a shot in the NFL. It was something that I dreamed of doing ever since I could remember. I then proceeded back in to my humble apartment in Phoenix that was packed with family and friends, and the phone rang. It was Tom Coughlin, the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, which was an expansion team that year. It was the 40th pick overall of the NFL Draft and I was a Jaguar! One of the proudest days of my young life. I finally got my shot. After all, what more can you really ask for out of life than a shot, an opportunity to live your dream.
A lot of Texas’s very own sons are having a lot of these very same feelings today.
Scanning NFL.com’s mock draft projections today we see University of Houston’s, William Jackson III being picked to go 18th in the first round to the Indianapolis Colts. Baylor’s Corey Coleman projected to go 22nd to the Houston Texans. TCU’s Josh Doctson going to the Cincinnati Bengals with the 24th pick, and Andrew Billings out of Baylor going 31st to the Denver Broncos.
My advice to all the players waiting to see if you will have the privilege of playing in the NFL today. Enjoy this day, It’s going to be a crazy day filled with unexpected moves and picks.
You have done all you can do to prepare for this moment.
Take this day and enjoy it, because regardless of where you get picked you’ll have the honor of having your shot to compete against the best players in the world. Take in all of the sights and sounds of the day an enjoy yourself, you’ve earned it.
For these players, today is the culmination of years of dedication and desire to play this game we all love. Regardless of what pick our hometown players get selected, and regardless of what round, we couldn’t be more proud of what they have done to get here. Our Texas roots run deep, a lot of us remember watching these guys play in junior high and high school, then off through college. From all of us at TexasHSFootball and from your fans across this great state, Congratulations on getting here today. We can’t wait to see the great things you do in the NFL. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all today.
Photo courtesy of: SI.com