Waiting for the call

The 2008 NFL Draft gets underway on Saturday and several former LSU Tigers will be sitting by anxiously waiting to hear their name called and to see a lifelong dream come to fruition.

When the Miami Dolphins agreed to terms with Jake Long earlier in the week it put an end to the suspense of who would be the No. 1 pick overall.

Now, the only suspense for LSU's Glenn Dorsey is how long he will have to wait to hear his name called on Saturday.

 

The general consensus is that his fate will be determined by 2:30 p.m. (CST) at the latest when the Atlanta Falcons select third overall but the other LSU players will have to wait a little longer.

 

All in all, there will be at least 10 former Tigers waiting to receive the call informing them that they are about to be selected and one that hopes to get that call early on Saturday is linebacker Ali Highsmith.

 

Heading into the NFL Combine, the Miami (Fla.) native was pegged as a guy who could possibly slip into the first round with a strong showing.

 

Things, however, did not go as planned for Highsmith as he did not run well in the 40 yard dash with a time of 5.02 seconds.

 

A few weeks later, Highsmith got one more chance to show the coaches and scouts that he simply had a bad day and he redeemed himself by running a 4.74 in the same event at LSU’s Pro Day.

 

Scouts can measure some things with a stopwatch but as far as Highsmith is concerned there is much more to the evaluation process than meets the eye.

 

“I think everything outside of playing is overrated,” he said. “When they came to pro day and were talking about the time I really wasn’t paying a lot of attention. I went to the combine and I messed up but I just said whatever and went back to the drawing board. It really didn‘t bother me how I ran at the combine because I knew I could have run better.”

 

The weeks leading up to the NFL draft can be very stressful as teams jockey for position. There are a lot of interviews and meetings that take place but the closer it gets to draft day then the more NFL personnel hunker down and keep things to themselves.

 

Over the past week, Highsmith said he had been in contact with five teams as they were gathering draft day information in case one of them called his number.

 

Aside from that he said the same things that have been talked about for weeks and weeks is what has come his way.

 

“What I hear is basically that everyone knows I’m a football player,” he said. “Some people may test well and some people don’t test well so you just have to go back to game film and previous years and stuff like that. No matter what, you’re getting a good quality football player.”

 

Once Saturday gets here there will be draft parties all across the country as players sit around the phone like kids sitting around a Christmas tree.

 

While some players will be nervous and anxious to see what happens, Highsmith doesn’t appear to be one of them.

 

“I’ll probably be on the lake somewhere,” he said about his draft day location. “I can’t control it so I’m just going out there and whoever calls first is what I’m waiting on. I’m just waiting on a phone call. Being nervous will stress yourself out so I’m just trying to be relaxed about it.”

 

A day filled with nervous and anxiety may not be in Highsmith’s plans but when Chevis Jackson wakes up on Saturday morning he has a good idea of how he will feel.

 

“Anxious and just ready for it to be over with,” Jackson said. “It’s been a long three months with the combine, senior bowl and pro day. Now that it’s right around the corner I’m just ready for it to be over with.”

 

Jackson plans to spend the weekend with his family back in his hometown of Mobile, Ala.

 

Most would think the anxiety would center around how high he goes in the draft since there is a lot of money on the line.

 

But for Jackson there is a little more on his mind than just dollar signs.

 

“Just knowing where you’re going to be at for the next couple of years of your life,” he said. “Knowing who your teammates are going to be and knowing how they’re going to take you in is unknown territory. That’s probably causing the most anxiety.”

 

Several other LSU cornerbacks and former teammates have been in Jackson’s position the past few years.

 

All went on to start in the NFL at one point or another so that gives Jackson a few people to turn to as he sits on the clock.

 

“I’ve been talking to Corey (Webster), Travis (Daniels) and Ronnie (Prude) the past couple of weeks and they’ve just been asking me what I’ve been doing and telling me everything to be prepared for,” said Jackson. “I’m pretty sure I’ll get some more calls from them over the next couple of days.”

 

Most scouts and analysts feel that Highsmith and Jackson will both go on Saturday and someone that hopes to join them on the first day of the draft is Craig Steltz.

 

The big-hitting safety did not work out at the NFL Combine because he was rehabbing a shoulder injury.

 

He did workout for the scouts at pro day and although he doesn’t yet know where he will play at on the next level, Steltz is already living a dream.

 

“Since we’ve finished our final game I haven’t been at school and have just been working out,” he said. “If you view it as a job it’s unbelievable to me. I love working out and to say I’m going to work and to go work out…..I couldn’t ask for anything else.”

 

One thing Steltz could ask for is the chance to play professionally in his own backyard and he hopes that opportunity presents itself soon.

 

“I’ve always been a Saints fan,” he said. “I love New Orleans and the dome has been good to us. Since we’ve been here at LSU we’ve won a lot games in the Superdome and hopefully that trend will continue.”

 

Whether or not the Saints pick Steltz is unknown but the former Archbishop Rummel product knows he will spend the weekend in the Big Easy with the people who have helped him along the way.

 

“I’ll be with my family and just enjoying the time and their company,” he said. “They’re excited. To see that the day you’ve worked so hard for has finally come and like I said all the hay is in the barn and all the work has been put in. What happens this weekend happens.”

 

That may be the best way to put things in perspective because regardless of how much anxiety and nervous moments the weekend brings whatever is going to happen is going to happen.


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