McMichael ‘can't wait' to disprove doubters

<P>Saturday was not a good day for Randy McMichael. </P> <P>Sunday was not a good day for Jasper Sanks.

Saturday was not a good day for Randy McMichael.

Sunday was not a good day for Jasper Sanks.

When McMichael left Georgia following his junior season to enter the NFL draft, he expected to be picked on the first day of the draft, certainly by the third round if not the second round.

When the third round ended late Saturday night and McMichael still had not been drafted, those high expectations had been crushed.

"I was frustrated and upset,'' McMichael said. "I didn't know what to do. I was very upset.''

By noon Sunday, McMichael's mood had brightened. The team he hoped to hear from Saturday finally called early Sunday in the fourth round. McMichael was bound for Miami to play for the Dolphins — and offensive coordinator Norv Turner.

For McMichael, playing for Turner should be like playing for former Georgia coach Jim Donnan. Just as Donnan was known for the high exposure he gave to tight ends in his offense, Turner likes tight ends.

Of equal importance to McMichael, Miami needs a tight end with good receiving skills, because returning starter Hunter Goodwin and 2001 fifth-round draft pick Shawn Draper of Alabama are best known as blockers.

"I can't wait to get down to Norv Turner's offense,'' McMichael said. "I'm going to have a ball. It's just like Coach Donnan's offense.''

Meanwhile, Sanks had hoped to be drafted in Sunday's final four rounds, but he was overlooked. As he had feared, his dismissal from the Georgia team late in his senior season cost him an opportunity to be drafted.

"I think that's what he expected, so obviously you can't be too disappointed,'' said Sanks' agent, John Martin.

Sanks now hopes to be invited to an NFL camp as an undrafted free agent. "I'm calling some people and returning some calls, trying to investigate what possibilities are out there,'' Martin said.

Georgia had eight players drafted, including six Sunday.

Safety Terreal Bierria joined McMichael as a fourth-round pick, by Seattle. Two players were picked in the fifth round. Running back Verron Haynes was taken by Pittsburgh and safety Jermaine Phillips was picked by Tampa Bay.

The Buccaneers took another Georgia defensive back, cornerback Tim Wansley, in the seventh round.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was defensive end Josh Mallard being drafted in the seventh round by Indianapolis. Despite a productive college career at end and defensive tackle, Mallard was seen by most scouts as too small to play on the defensive line in the NFL.

On Saturday, defensive end Charles Grant was drafted in the first round by New Orleans, and linebacker Will Witherspoon was taken by Carolina in the third round.

Of the eight players selected from Georgia, six were from the defense. Under Donnan, McMichael caught 34 passes in 1999 and 32 passes in 2000. Under Coach Mark Richt, McMichael's production dipped slightly to 24 catches, though he played a crucial role in the upset win over Tennessee by catching six passes for 108 yards, including two for 40 yards in the game-winning drive.

The publicity generated by the win over Tennessee helped make McMichael a consensus first-team All-Southeastern Conference pick.

Despite his college accomplishments, there were some doubts that the 6-foot-4, 247-pound McMichael was big enough to play tight end in the NFL.

"I'm not going to worry about that any more,'' McMichael said. "I don't know what they thought. I do know when I get down to Miami on the football field, I'm going to shut up all the critics.''

McMichael, from Fort Valley, Ga., watched the draft with family and friends at his Athens apartment. A fifth-year junior, thanks to two medical redshirt granted early in his career, McMichael already has earned his degree in child and family development.

Because he had taken "at least'' three phone calls from Dolphins coaches in the last week, McMichael felt confident he would be drafted by Miami. "It was just a matter of when,'' he said.

Charles can be reached here: CEOdum@aol.com


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