In my four years of covering the football team, I have covered 11 first-round draft picks.
All of them possess similar qualities including confidence, the ability to learn, and the ability to be a leader.
It has also been interesting to see how different they are as well. From Kellen Winslow's out-going dynamic personality, to Antrel Rolle's smooth swagger, to Kelly Jennings technical analysis.
With Brandon, we've always had a special relationship since we met. He's been my boy since day one when he was this skinny kid who carried himself with swagger.
And Brandon loved to talk. I remember one spring when Devin Hester was playing wide receiver after making the switch from defense and Brandon was riding him all throughout the practice. He was calling him a cry-baby and this and that. It was comical. Brandon just didn't shut up. That was his game. He was having fun. Brandon's unique ability to play with swagger and confidence is what allowed him to overcome his size.
Brandon was a character.
We developed a close bond during the 2003 season when he was a redshirt freshman. He opened up to me and talked about losing his friend--Theodis "Trey" McMiller to a boating accident earlier that year. To have someone open up especially in a media-player relationship always changes how you are with someone. We were always good throughout his career and always asking how we were doing even when time didn't allow us to keep up all the time.
He had quite a career at UM. Here's a kid that went from being known as a great hitter, then getting shown on highlights after getting run over, then delivering a knock-out blow a year later, to becoming a Jim Thorpe Award semi-finalist.
To see him get selected in the first round is great. I wish nothing for the best for him. I cover Dolphins home games for another media outlet so I'm glad I'll get to see him play in person at least once a year.
Jon Beason and I talked about the NFL Draft quite substantially throughout the 2006 season. What should he do, we both had our opinions. I wrote an article for CanesTime in late November predicting that Beason would turn pro. The thing about it was Beason was not ready to announce his final decision until January, but I knew much sooner than that. Keeping things in is something you learn how to do in the media. Players trust your relationship with them even though you know it would benefit you at the time with the breaking news.
So I had to be patient. And it paid off. When Jon was ready to announce his decisin he gave me a call to tell me he was ready to publicize it. We had it up on CanesTime shortly after.
That's one thing Beason and I shared, we both respected each other. Beason was great with the media and a number of people in the media enjoyed getting to know him. I think that helped him in his meetings with NFL teams, he's personable and easy to like. Beason is the kind of guy that has everyone's phone number in his cell phone and cares about people.
He was raised the right way and he will be successful in life--whether or not that is in the NFL or not, that depends on a number of factors--but he will be successful in life.
I still remember the story he told me about how he was driving in the middle of the night over trees during the hurricanes in 2006. Just crazy.
While I had very good relationships with Meriweather and Beason, I didn't have a special relationship with Olsen, but we got along well and spent an hour talking one day for an interview for a CanesTime the Magazine feature and we kept in touch earlier in his career.
Olsen was good to talk to from the media's standpoint and although he was methodical in his answers, he always gave us the time. I remember the one time he got a little annoyed with the questions was last year when he talked about Larry Coker and how he didn't like the negativity surrounding him. He said something about sitting around listening to everyone talking bad about your father and how of course you aren't going to like it. It caught us all of guard. Pretty good stuff though.
I know Olsen has taken heat over his career at UM, but to be honest, anyone in this era has because of the losses.
In regards to his football career, I think he's going to be in the NFL for quite some time and I would not be surprised if he made it to a Pro Bowl if he stays healthy. He was born to play football and the NFL has always been in his future. I expect him to make the most of it with his opportunity with the Bears.
Best of luck to these three guys, it will be fun to watch their careers in the NFL.
Christopher Stock can be reached at email@example.com
My Thoughts on the First-Round Draft Picks
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