Dan Stricker talks about the NFL draft

Receiver Dan Stricker, one of several Commodores hoping to be taken in the NFL draft, talks about his experiences at the combine, and discloses the team from whom he'd most like to get a call (it might surprise you). The NFL draft runs Saturday and Sunday and will be televised live by ESPN.

VandyMania: With the draft coming up Saturday, you've got to be going through a million emotions... excitement? Nervousness? All of the above?

Dan Stricker: Well, I guess every emotion that can get inside my head right now. It's been an enjoyable experience throughout the whole process, though. I've been hearing, getting information from the NFL personnel, but what you hear sometimes is not what you get. Moreso than not, I've been hearing from former teammates and friends that were drafted that the team that drafted them was one of the teams that they thought weren't as interested. So I don't really know what to think about the process. I'm just ready to get it over with.

VM: Have there been a couple of teams that have especially expressed interest in you? If so, could you tell us which ones?

DS: If phone calls and what-not are a good indication of interest, I'd have to say that I've spoken to Baltimore the most. I actually just got off the phone with St. Louis today, and the receivers coach called me with promising words that I wanted to hear. But you never know. I'm just going to wait out the weekend and see what happens.

VM: Did you have a favorite team growing up? Or if you had your choice of any team, would there be a favorite one?

DS: Well, being from Cincinnati, the team I grew up watching and loving was the Cincinnati Bengals. I really hit one of their highlight seasons, and that was when I started to develop an interest in football. That's when they had Boomer Esiason and Ickey Woods and Cris Collinsworth. I remember watching Cris Collinsworth play, him and my Dad, and I wanted to do that someday. Watching the Bengals the last few years has (laugh) hindered my liking towards them. But I can really hope for the best with their new coach, and I would really enjoy playing for Cincinnati, seeing that it's my home town.

VM: The fact that they have not won much lately wouldn't bother you that much?

DS: Well, everyone wants to play for a winning team. Since I haven't played on a winning college team, my desire is to play on a winning team is increasingly more important. But my main priority is still just playing football. It's what I love to do. It's what I've dreamt about. I can catch a football. What it comes down to is, I'm a competitor. Every chance I get to compete and play football, I'm going to be extremely happy. Whether that lands me in a city that I'm less keen on than another city, so be it. Any other outside bonuses, such as location and winning records are merely icing on the cake.

VM: Tell us about the combine. Was that about the most nerve-wracking thing you've ever done in your life?

DS: I thought it was going to be extremely nerve-wracking, but to tell you the truth, once I got there, everything was run very efficiently. We had a strict itinerary to go by, and all the different events that we had to do really kept your mind off what you were actually doing. When people always ask, how did you do in the combine, what they really want to know is, what times did you run? Most people don't realize that that's only a three-hour session of a four-day event. The first three days is sort of like interviews, and all sorts of mental and psychiatric tests and physical examinations. There was a lot of waiting around to do some of that stuff, and what made it enjoyable were the players that were there. You got to meet all of the top 300-plus players in the nation that you've been watching. It was fun to meet them and talk to them, and talking to all the NFL coaches was extremely enjoyable. By the time it was over you thought, wow, I did a lot, I should have been nervous for all that, but at the same time it was enjoyable, and the events that you did there really took your mind off the importance of it all.

VM: One thing I had read was that you were working out out in Arizona before the combine, and that you'd been working with [University of Miami quarterback] Ken Dorsey some. Tell us about that.

DS: There's a very reputable program in Arizona that my agent guided me too, and ultimately I chose that facility to work out at, not knowing what other players would be there. There were a total of 24 of us there. There were a few quarterbacks, Ken Dorsey being one. We did a lot of things that he wanted to work on, and I was eager to practice my skills as well. We got in quite a few very good workouts. It was great working with a quarterback with his talent. He's an extremely nice guy, and a great competitor as well. We enjoyed each other's company.

VM: What are you hearing these days about Rushen Jones and Hunter Hillenmeyer? How many Vandy players do you think might go in this draft?

DS: I have no idea. I wouldn't throw much into the "draftable" bracket. Sometimes you just don't know. Sometimes you're drafted three rounds higher than you thought you would-- and sometimes it's the flip side of that, you're absolutely astonished that you weren't drafted. I think if everyone goes to the fullest of their capability, I would think... I would say that four Commodores could be drafted, that being myself, Hunter, Rushen, and possibly Jim May in one of the later rounds. But you never know-- it could be zero, it could be any one of those numbers.

VM: I know several of your former teammates have not been drafted, but have ended up signing contracts after the draft. If you know you're going to go in, say, the seventh round, would it be better to not be drafted, and then you can go with the team of your choice?

DS: I really haven't thought about that too much. I will say that NFL teams put a lot of time and money into their scouting services. And even if you're the last pick in the draft, a lot of money has gone into scouting you out above all the other players that could have been drafted. With that in mind, NFL teams would like to keep their draft picks, seeing that they're the one that put all the time and effort into getting you-- that's why they drafted you. So I do think, when it comes down to it, you have a better chance of making a team than a free agent would have. Now you just have to ask the question, is $100,000 worth [having to go to] the city of Detroit? Or is $50,000 worth the city of Detroit? I couldn't say that... that's an awful lot of money [to pass up] just to be able to choose the city you want to play in.

VM: Last question-- what are you going to do this weekend? How are you going to watch it all? Are you going to sit by your TV, or are you going to go play golf or something?

DS: On Saturday I have a very nice distraction-- my cousin is getting married, and I'm going to be in her wedding. I suppose it would be a very awkward moment if my phone were to ring in the middle of the I-do's (laugh)! But that will get my mind off the first day. The second day I'm not quite sure. I'll probably just be tossing the football or playing out with the dog in the backyard, or doing something to get my mind off it. My Mom will be watching it with my Dad and they'll tell me when the phone rings (laugh).


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