Draft Day for DeVante Parker

Former University of Louisville All-American receiver DeVante Parker expected to be an NFL first round selection on Thursday

The dream of reaching the NFL is one that most college players have, but few actually achieve.

For former University of Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker, that dream becomes a reality on Thursday when he is expected to be a first round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft.

"It's real close," Parker said following his Pro Day workout in March. "I've been thinking about since I was young. Watching people get drafted and thinking that could be me one day and now it's going to happen."

Parker's journey to the professional ranks began to take hold during his time at Louisville Ballard, where he hauled in 3,274 receiving yards during his career, a total that ranks fifth all-time in state history. As a senior he earned first team All-State honors and was selected as the state's top player after recording 1,793 yards and 19 touchdowns.

The son of former Cardinals running back Anthony Shelman, Parker spurred offers elsewhere to play for his hometown team and quickly made an impact upon arrival. As a freshman, the 6-foot-3 Parker led the team in touchdown receptions. As a sophomore in 2012, Parker led the team in receiving yards and touchdowns. As a junior, he tied a school record with 12 touchdown receptions, while also leading the team in receiving yards.

A preseason All-American prior to his senior season, Parker suffered a foot injury that forced him to miss seven games last fall. However, it didn't slow his production once he returned to the field. Despite playing in just six games, he led the team in receiving yards once again, finishing with 855 yards and five touchdowns.

He leaves the U of L program with his name dotted throughout the record book. His 33 career touchdowns is tied with Ibn Green for most in school history, while he ranks among the top ten in career receptions, total yards and yards per catch.

His focus since the end of the season has been on the draft. He's worked out frequently, impressing scouts at the NFL combine, at Pro Day and in his many visits with multiple NFL franchises. He's been working out for the past two months in Florida and has visited over a dozen NFL teams this month in preparation for the the draft and tonight all his work and efforts will be rewarded.

He grew up a fan of the New Orleans Saints, but Parker enters the draft with no preferences on his future team.

"That's all up to them," he said. "Wherever I go, I have to stick. I just want to get drafted."

He'll be among the players attending the NFL Draft's first round in Chicago on Thursday evening. He'll sit with his family and wait to hear his name called by the NFL commissioner. The possibilities of where Parker will begin his pro career and many, with draft experts projecting him to a number of teams.

The mock draft at NFL.com has Parker being selected 11th and rejoining his former Cardinal teammate Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota, while the latest Scout.com projections has him going one spot later to the Cleveland Browns.

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