Bingham plays the waiting game

With Day 1 of the NFL Draft in the books, all the Huskers you followed last year that graduated and opted for this event as a chance to extend their football career, well, they are still all out there, unclaimed and perhaps unappreciated. Some though, while not conceding anything to anyone wasn't going to be surprised by this. He expected this. Ryon Bingham knew his road to the NFL was going to be a "wait and see" affair.

Hindsight is perfect for most, but it's also painful for some. It's possibly what defensive tackle, Ryon Bingham feels as he waxes nostalgic over a good career with the Nebraska Huskers, but one filled with "what ifs".

What if the Utah native could have only stayed healthy for his entire career, what a career he could have had? What if Bingham had actually had one defensive line coach, what kind of progress he could have made? What if Ryon Bingham wasn't disenchanted with his place in the program to the extent that not even an additional year allowed with the Huskers due to a medical exemption couldn't keep him there?

Hard to think that the run-stopping machine that personifies the defensive tackle has to think about regrets when he's going in the draft, but for Husker fans, they saw only a glimpse of what this hulk of a interior tackle can do.

Take into account that when Bingham did start for NU, he led all interior linemen in total tackles. Take into account the fact that when teams ran against Nebraska while Bingham was there anchored in the middle, it usually wasn't anywhere near him. Former defensive coordinator, Bo Pelini calling him an "Ox", several others comparing his strength to that of just about any other animal short of a pachyderm, run-stopping wasn't just his job, it was a gift.

One Bingham himself ironically attributes to something other than the type of strength that showed in the NFL combine as he benched the NFL standard 225 lbs., an impressive 33 times. "I know for a fact that it's 100% mental." Bingham said of what it takes to be the ultimate run-stopper. "If you are convinced that the offensive guy can't move you, he probably won't. It doesn't matter if there are two or three guys on you, if your technique is good, you can hold your own."

It doesn't hurt being strong as an ox I would imagine either. While Bingham would reluctantly admit that he is a pretty strong individual at that, he'd also state that as he has been getting ready for this draft, that's been the least of his concerns. "I think if I would have focused a little more training on the bench, I would have done better," Bingham stated "but, I figured it would be good and I wanted to focus more on my running and being agile."

To that end, Bingham succeeded in garnering enough attention to keep him busy throughout the entire process of getting ready for the NFL "pick'em". Working out for an estimated 20 teams, Ryon saw his share of individual sessions doing this, that and the other thing.

It's been a reality check or in most soon to be NFL players' cases, a process where they have to literally change the way they doing things, physically and mentally as well. "It was night and day." Bingham stated of the training process preparing for the draft differing from what he did at Nebraska. "In college, you focus more on your specific position drills. Here, I am working with a personal trainer on spring work, flexibility and stuff that is more focused on you as the athlete and not necessarily as the position you are slotted to play."

It's all part of the show as they say as athletes prepare for the myriad combines, sessions and what not they will attend in hopes to impress prospective programs, so that they can get back to doing what they do best, but against the very best.

It's interesting when you look at Bingham. A wrestling background out of high school in Utah, coming to Nebraska chiseled but out of the high school ranks in Utah, more than likely untested. What you would expect someone of his stature to do is be able to be wherever he wants and once he's there, nothing short of an act of nature is moving him.

He's been that when healthy, probably the biggest obstacle Bingham has had to overcome since he became a Husker. But, when healthy, Bingham was indeed an ox. Well, an ox with a helluva left forearm.

You need only ask running back, Hiawatha Rutland of Iowa State as when Nebraska faced the Cyclones led by QB, Seneca Wallace, Iowa State won the war, but Bingham won one particular battle in rather dramatic fashion.

Rutland, standing 6'0", weighing right in around 210 lbs. comes jetting up the middle and Bingham, engaged already with an offensive lineman sticks his left arm out and the Iowa State running back comes to a very sudden halt.

Bingham chuckled a bit as he recalled that play. "Yeah, I just stuck out my arm and he went down." he said. "I was actually a little surprised he went down like that. I was expecting him to spin off or something, but he just went straight down."

Bingham was such a run-stopping force, had the draft had a single category for just that type of player, Ryon could have very well been a day one player instead of waiting for day two.

A product of a system in what he was asked to do though, Bingham was relegated to that, but the so-called diminished role didn't stop at least one person from comparing Bingham to another former Nebraska lineman and one of the better run-stoppers the NFL has seen in the last decade. "I was told that I reminded them of John Parella." Bingham stated. "That's just a huge compliment because that guy is as strong as it gets."

Ironically enough, Parella himself has found himself losing battles with injuries the last couple of years, especially since leaving San Diego for the Raiders.

Leaving one team for another or even thinking of the free-agent market at all, that's not a concern of Bingham at this point in time. Where he goes really isn't either, though he's seen the Parella's former team, the Dolphins and the Cowboys as teams he thinks he would be a nice fit.

Those are also the teams that Bingham has said he's seen what he could consider the most interest. Right now though, you can imagine that Day two doesn't make you think of who, rather you just worry about when. "I've been told anywhere from fourth to seventh." Bingham said of people projecting what round he would go. "You look on the internet and they are so different and most of them really aren't all that reliable."

Reliable? Probably not as scouting future NFL talent is just a glorified job of recruiting analysis, taking film, profiles and the infamous wonderlic and trying to predict how that player will do in your system over a certain amount of time.

So, it's watch and wait or wait and try not to watch. Either way, for Bingham, he's got a very laid-back approach to what day two will bring, but he's a little anxious as well. "You always want to know where you are going to go." he said. "But, I never worried about that while I was working out. I just wanted to improve myself, what I could do and offer to a team and just let things go from there."

"I can't really control anything that happens, so there's not a lot of reason to worry about it until it does."

And, does he worry about being picked perhaps not until the last round of the draft? Does Ryon Bingham wonder about being picked at a point where even special teams' players have been taken before his name is called? "No, because that doesn't mean anything." he said. "I've seen guys taken in the first round do nothing and guys taken in the last round become All-Pros."

"It's not where you are picked, it's what you do with that team that picks you. Where you are drafted doesn't get you on the field."

Ryon Bingham joins Demorrio Williams, Trevor Johnson, Kyle Larson and Josh Davis as the most likely former Huskers to be selected on Day two with Patrick Kabongon, Dan Vili Waldrop, Josh Sewell, T.J. Hollowell and Jammal Lord looking or hoping for a possible free-agency opportunity.

The final four rounds start at 10:00 central time on ESPN2.

Steve Ryan can be reached at huskerconnection@neb.rr.com or 402-730-5619


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