Bazuin Ready to Fulfill NFL Dream

Central Michigan University defensive end Daniel Bazuin learned the value of hard work and dedication at an early age while growing up on a dairy farm in McBain, Mich. This weekend, all those years of hard work and dedication will be rewarded when Bazuin fulfills his lifelong dream of making it to the NFL.

Many American boys dream of one day playing in the National Football League.

Daniel Bazuin was no different while growing up on a dairy farm in the rural community of McBain, Mich., about 90 miles north of Grand Rapids. He wanted to play football on Sundays too.

"It's always been a dream of mine to make it to the NFL," Bazuin said. "There's no doubt I'll be able to play at the next level."

NFL scouts agree with the former Central Michigan University standout defensive end. That's why this weekend, the 6-foot-3, 266-pound Bazuin, who's been clocked at 4.63 in the 40-yard dash, should hear his name called in the 2007 NFL Draft.

His size, speed and strength make Bazuin a "tweener," who could play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, or outside linebacker in a 3-4 defensive scheme at the next level.

"I don't care what I play, outside linebacker or defensive end," Bazuin said. "The biggest transition to outside backer will be pass drops."

Nicknamed "Buzz" by his Chippewa teammates, Bazuin holds CMU career records for sacks (35.5) and tackles for loss (63.5). He was a 2006 preseason All-American and a three-time first team All-Mid-American Conference selection. In 2005 he was named the MAC Defensive Player of the Year and was also named the Defensive Most Valuable Player of the East/West Shrine All-Star game.

His performance in that all-star game and during CMU's Pro Day last month have sold many NFL scouts on Bazuin's ability to play at the next level.

"The Cleveland Browns have been real interested in me," Bazuin said. "The Miami Dolphins are another 3-4 team like the Browns that are also interested in me."

Bazuin said he's also been hearing a lot from the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs.

All the teams run a 3-4 defensive scheme except the Jaguars, Colts and Chiefs, which run a 4-3.

Bazuin said the best case scenario for him could be at the end of the second round when Miami (28th pick, 60th overall) and Baltimore (29th, 61st overall) pick, or at the beginning of the third round when Cleveland picks (3rd, 67th overall) and Miami (7th, 71st) picks again. The Ravens currently do not have a third round pick.

"I haven't been thinking about it too much," Bazuin said. "It's out of my hands right now. I've done all I can do to impress the scouts.

"From what some NFL scouts are saying I could go anywhere from the second to the fourth round," Bazuin added.

Bazuin has seemingly left a great impression wherever his life has taken him. He was a three-sport all-state athlete at McBain High School, where he led the Class C school to a 2002 state basketball title and a 2001 state runner-up finish in football.

This season he led the Chippewas to their first MAC title since 1994 and a Motor City Bowl victory over Middle Tennessee State. He was also named to the Academic All-America team.

"No doubt winning the MAC Championship this year is my most memorable sports moment," Bazuin said.

It was a banner year for the CMU football program that should culminate this weekend after Bazuin and two of his fellow Chippewas, offensive tackle Joe Staley and center Drew Mormino, all have their names called in the 2007 NFL Draft. Staley is projected to go in the first round.

"I don't think Central's ever had this much hype for the NFL Draft," Bazuin said. "It's huge for the program and huge for the MAC."

The Chippewas currently have five players in the NFL, offensive tackle Adam Kieft and center Eric Ghiaciuc with the Cincinnati Bengals, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins and tight end Tory Humphrey with the Green Bay Packers and quarterback Kent Smith, who plays for the Tennessee Titans.

Bazuin will gather with family and friends this Saturday back in McBain to watch the NFL Draft on television. For Bazuin, it will be the fulfillment of a dream, but he will carry with him the memory of his younger brother Darin, who he tragically lost last summer.

"It helps me realize what I have," Bazuin said. "A lot of people didn't have the opportunity I do."

Bazuin concluded: "It gives inspiration to everybody who comes out of a small school like McBain. I've done it (fulfilled my dream of playing professionally), they can do it too."

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