UK's Warford on verge of a dream

Larry Warford is on the verge of a lifelong dream as the NFL Draft approaches. The Wildcats' senior guard is poised to become UK's first offensive lineman to be drafted in 20 years.

Larry Warford knows the call is coming. He just can't bring himself to believe it's actually happening.

At some point between Thursday and Saturday, Warford is expected to hear his name called at the 2013 NFL Draft. Kentucky's All-American guard is projected as one of the top five players at his position and could be selected anywhere between the second and fourth rounds, according to most draft experts.

"It's still kind of like a dream," Warford said. "Since it's not here, it doesn't really seem like it's real, but I'm getting all these calls from these teams asking me for my information for draft day. It's like, 'Whoa, I'm here now.'

"It's only a couple days away, so the fact that it's getting so close, it's become more reality, and once that day is over I'm going to be in it, so I'm pretty excited for that."

FOX Sports' Peter Schrager currently projects the 6-foot-3, 333-pound Warford as the No. 55 overall pick, going to Green Bay in the second round where he would be reunited with former Wildcats Randall Cobb and Tim Masthay. ESPN's Scouts Inc. also has Warford tabbed for the second round, going No. 50 overall to the Chicago Bears.

No matter when he's selected, Warford will be making a bit of history. Kentucky has not had an offensive lineman drafted in 20 years, dating back to Todd Perry and Chuck Bradley being picked by the Chicago Bears and Houston Oilers, respectively, in the fourth and sixth rounds.

Kentucky's last first-rounder at the position was Warren Bryant, who was taken by the Atlanta Falcons in 1977. The most famous former Wildcat offensive lineman to be drafted was Dermontti Dawson, who was a second-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1988 and went on to a Hall of Fame career.

Warford likely would have been drafted following his junior season at UK, but he opted to come back for one more year of development at the college level.

"I wasn't ready last year to come out as a junior," said the former Madison Central High School standout. "I had a lot to work on. I feel like through this season I have gotten to play against a lot better defensive tackles with the addition of Missouri and going out to play Florida and Georgia. Those guys have a lot of great defensive tackles, so I got to improve my game a lot, and it's helped me out.

"Honestly I wasn't even debating it last year. I knew that I had a lot to work on, and I still believe I do. I'm not a perfect offensive lineman. Nobody is. There's always something to work on. Keeping that point of view throughout my entire career at UK has helped me progress as a player and become a good one. I'm going to try to keep that mentality and never become complacent with where I'm at."

He also credited former UK offensive line coach Mike Summers for playing a key role in his development. Summers coached Warford during the player's final three years with the Cats.

"Being coached by Mike Summers, I owe everything to him," Warford said. "He's such a great coach, and I just want to represent his teachings that he gave to me in the NFL."

Warford said he has spoken with representatives of almost every NFL organization. He worked out for four teams and visited a handful of others, although he chose not to divulge who those were. He did, however, snap the ball for the New York Giants during UK's Pro Day, suggesting he could also get looks as a center. His versatility to play any of the interior line positions at the pro level could help his draft stock.

"I just have to make one of them like me," he said. "I am excited that they will like me and I am hoping that one of those teams will draft me."

He has yet to make plans for how he'll watch the draft. His father has been pushing for a party with family and friends, but he says he'd be more comfortable just hanging out and playing video games as the draft unfolds.

"I am going to be nervous the whole time, so I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to be doing," Warford said.

One person he wishes could be present for the big day is his mother, who lives in Samoa. He hasn't seen her in six years.

"Hopefully, I can bring her back, even if it is just for a little bit, bring her to some of my games," Warford said. "The last time she saw me play was 2006 actually. It was my sophomore season (of high school) in California. She saw that game, and she hasn't seen me play since. Having her at one of my games would be amazing to me."

That could lead to some emotional moments for him as the draft unfolds.

"I want her around to see what I have been doing with my life and how I have been growing up and maturing as a person," Warford said. "The last time she saw me, I was still a kid and running around doing crazy stuff. I have changed a whole bunch since then, and she hasn't gotten to see that.

"I have been keeping in touch with her, but actual physical contact with her has been hard not having her here. She tells me to keep strong and keep working and doing what I love. I am planning on bringing her back soon."

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