Sheldon Rankins was invited to Chicago for the NFL Draft.
But the former University of Louisville defensive lineman opted to spend the evening watching with his family and a few friends in Georgia, noting he wasn't too overcome by nerves.
"I'm a pretty laid back guy," he said. "So, nerves weren't too bad. I have always been a fan of the draft. It's something I have always enjoyed watching. But obviously when my name was called, it turned into business.
"The room erupted and here we are now."
The 6-foot-2, 300-pound Rankins got that call and had his celebration with the family at the No. 12 pick. He was selected by the New Orleans Saints and becomes the 32nd player coached at U of L under Bobby Petrino selected in the NFL Draft.
"I’m extremely proud and excited for Sheldon Rankins on his selection this evening," Petrino said. "Being a first round pick is a great accomplishment and a much-deserved honor. He has worked so hard to perfect his craft and he is one of the most complete football players I have ever coached. I wish him nothing but success as he makes the jump to the next level, and I thank him for his contributions to our program."
Rankins had been projected to the Saints by most of the mock drafts. But he said it was still a treat to get the call.
"It's a blessing," Rankins said. "Being able to be selected in the first round and as high as I was puts the icing on the cake. I am just ready to get down to New Orleans and play ball."
While he said he didn't have any expectations in the draft, Rankins said he was "happy" being selected by the Saints. He spoke to the team at the NFL Combine and also at the Senior Bowl.
"You never know with these things," Rankins said. "It's made a fool of many people trying to guess what's going to happen. I just feel blessed to get that call at No. 12 with New Orleans."
Rankins said his only trip to New Orleans was during his freshman season when the Cardinals beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl. But he noted he's ready to "get back down there and get to work."
"I come from a hard-working family," Rankins said. "My mom's a teacher, my grandparents work hard. That's just what I've been built on: Work hard and good things will follow. That's pretty much how I was raised."