Kirk Barton is accustomed to dealing with disappointment. After being part of an Ohio State team that suffered a 41-14 loss to Florida in the 2007 national championship game, the senior-to-be opted to return for one more season in part to improve his draft status.
That seemed to be a smart move, considering the right tackle was viewed as a middle-to-late-round selection had he opted to go pro. Voted a senior caption for the Buckeyes, his leadership helped a young OSU squad again advance to the national title game before falling to LSU this time.
Prepared for the NFL this time, bag packed, he flipped the TV on to watch the second day of the draft and wait to be selected.
Shortly before 7 p.m. Eastern time, his name flashed on the screen and he found himself named as the last member of the Chicago Bears' 2008 draft class.
Rob Carr/AP Images
It was a little bit lower than he was expecting to fall, to say the least.
"I heard on Friday that probably the latest I would go would be the fifth round," he told BuckeyeSports.com. "That was from a pretty prominent scout. He told my agent that. That was what I was thinking would be my floor, and then anything above that would be great. That just proves that you can't really look at any draft projections or anything."
Sitting at home, Barton spent the day alternating between watching the draft and doing anything else to keep his mind off of it. The situation was further complicated by a steady stream of phone calls from NFL representatives throughout the afternoon.
As the shadows grew longer on the walls, the tone of those phone calls changed.
"Teams would call and say, ‘We have a couple picks coming up,'" Barton said. "Then towards the sixth round, a lot of teams will call and say, ‘Would you want to come here as an unsigned guy, as an undrafted free agent?' They were recruiting me. It makes it hard because you're sitting by the TV and a team's ready to make a pick, and all of a sudden your phone rings and it's a strange number and you think this could be the call and it was just someone checking up on me."
Aside from a few former coaches sending messages of support, Barton said he received few calls from friends and former teammates – all of whom knew best to leave him alone until things were decided.
When he was finally selected with the 247th-overall pick in the draft, it came as a relief to Barton. While not getting selected would have allowed him to shop his services as a free agent, similar to what former teammates Tyler Whaley and Dionte Johnson did, Barton said he was not looking forward to the hassle of traveling all across the country and trying to find a suitable team.
Kiichiro Sato/AP Images
A call from Bears director of college scouting Greg Gabriel put an end to what Barton described multiple times as simple "a long day." He was the third offensive lineman taken by the Bears in the seventh round and might be used as a guard in the NFL.
Later, he received a head call from head coach Lovie Smith welcoming him to the program.
"He said he likes me because I'm tough and I play hard," Barton said.
Minicamp for the Bears starts Friday, and the first-team all-Big Ten tackle will report and begin trying to carve out a name for himself on the roster.
Don't look for him to show up with a chip on his shoulder, however.
"The biggest thing is you've just got to make a good first impression, and you have to start over and start working," he said. "It's just like when you go to college: You have to prove yourself all over again. I'm excited to do that. You can't get too caught up in where you go. You just have to show them that you're a player."
Adam Jardy is a Staff Writer for Buckeye Sports Bulletin and BuckeyeSports.com.