A Different Look at the Draft

They have been timed at 10, 20 and 40 yards. They have done their vertical jumps and short shuttles. They have taken the Wonderlic test. <br><br> The numbers are in for the NFL Draft class of 2003. And behind the numbers are the stories that tell the human side of the draft.

Some of the interesting notes on the class of '03:

H-E-E-E-E-R-E's CARSON!: The first overall selection in the draft – the first USC Trojan to be so since KEYSHAWN JOHNSON in 1996. Quarterback CARSON PALMER is the 2002 Heisman Trophy winner, the fifth USCer and the first since MARCUS ALLEN in 1981 so selected. He is the first Trojan quarterback to win the award. He set school records for total offensive yards, and most plays, passing yards, passing TDs, completions, attempts and 300-yard games. To his Heisman, he added the JOHNNY UNITAS "Golden Arm" Award and CNN/SI Player of the Year Award.

LEFTWICH CAN'T BE LEFT OUT: There are a lot of promising quarterbacks joining Carson Palmer in the Draft Class of '03, 20 years after the QB Class of '83. There's KYLE BOLLER (California), KEN DORSEY (Miami), REX GROSSMAN (Florida), KLIFF KINGSBURY (Texas Tech), BYRON LEFTWICH (Marshall), DAVE RAGONE (Louisville) and CHRIS SIMMS (Texas).

One of the most interesting is Leftwich, who easily deserves his own list. Five good items about him:

LORD BYRON • Best friends with the Marshall QB who preceded him, the New York Jets' CHAD PENNINGTON. Byron frequently calls him. "Chad did it all on the field and off," says Leftwich. "He taught me how to carry myself and made sure I was prepared."

• Grew up in Washington, DC playing football on the street. "When a car would come, we'd pause," he says. "When the car would leave, we'd continue playing. We'd just keep scraping ourselves up. You don't really hurt when you're a little kid. You just want to play."

• His favorite player was JOE MONTANA. In high school, he wore Montana's college No. 3.

• Marshall sent out "Byron Bobblehead" dolls in pitching him for the Hesiman, and posted "Magnificent 7" (his uniform number) billboards around the school's Huntington, West Virginia base.

• His mother, BRENDA, would let Byron and his brother KEVIN rent two videos a week. Kevin would always get a new video. Byron would always rent "Rocky IV."

KENNEDY'S BEEN THERE BEFORE: Every year, the NFL invites high school football teams from the New York area to attend the draft at Madison Square Garden. This year, it's got a returnee – Penn State defensive tackle JIMMY KENNEDY. In 1997, Kennedy, then a junior, attended the draft with his Roosevelt High School team of Yonkers, New York as a reward for its 12-0 record and state championship. He saw tackle ORLANDO PACE of Ohio State selected as the first overall pick by St. Louis. Kennedy won the High School Heisman Trophy from the Downtown Athletic Club as a senior.

"HEY, MARJU, IT'S FOR YOU!": When Louisville quarterback DAVE RAGONE, who says he only "took knees" in his first three years in high school, made a name for himself in college, the agents started calling. But he had a clever way of avoiding their pitches.
He just put girlfriend MARJU SOBER, a former Louisville basketball player from Estonia, on the phone. "She'd speak Estonian to them," says Dave, "and they'd just hang up."

HUGGY BEAR TO A TROJAN: There are a good number of famous fathers who have eligible sons in this year's draft – PHIL SIMMS (Texas QB CHRIS) and JOE KLECKO (Temple DT DAN), to name just two.

But even USC running back JUSTIN FARGAS' head coach, PETE CARROLL, was impressed with his father. He is the actor ANTONIO FARGAS of TV ("Starsky & Hutch") and movie ("Shaft," "The Gambler" and "Car Wash") fame. When Carroll went to meet Justin in 2001 after the RB transferred from Michigan, he was stunned by who greeted him at the door. "I had no idea who his dad was," says Carroll. "I knocked at his door, and there was ‘Huggy Bear' (Fargas' character in "Starsky & Hutch")."

EVEN HIS WIFE SAYS HE'S GOOFY: She really knows him because she's known him since they were 12. So who better to describe Utah tackle JORDAN GROSS – who could be the first Utah college player taken in the top 10 since quarterback JIM MC MAHON in 1982 (BYU by Chicago) – than his wife DANA. And how she describes him!

Maybe it was their first date in their hometown of Fruitland, Utah. "Big Spender" Jordan took Dana bowling. He paid for the lanes, she sprang for the post-bowling milkshakes at Jack-in-the-Box.

"He's just kind of goofy," says Dana. "Not that that is a bad thing, but he sort of always has to be the center of attention. He's been like that ever since I've known him. He always used to get me in trouble. He was always goofing around and he'd always get all the girls giggling." SLOW DOWN, MOM!: It was a six-foot snake, and did he ever pay for it! When Penn State defensive end MICHAEL HAYNES – who last year tied the Nittany Lions' single-season sack record (11.0) – was in high school in Panama, practice was called off one day. Traipsing through the jungle, he spied a six-foot snake – and brought it home.

Mom was not pleased. And mom was not an ordinary mom. CATHERINE HAYNES was in the U.S. Army and woke up at 5:00 AM every morning to run. Mile after mile. The next day, Michael was ordered to join her. "Bringing home that snake was definitely one of the dumbest things I've done," says Michael.

It wasn't the only time he joined mom in the morning. "My legs would be all tired," Haynes says of their jaunts. "You'd be sitting in class later that day, and all you could think was, ‘Man, that was tough."

QUIET TIME: They're no Keyshawn. Or Warren. Or Shannon.
No, it's hard to get a word out of Miami (Fla.) defensive tackle WILLIAM JOSEPH or his younger brother, Hurricane tackle CARLOS. The two just don't talk. Even sometimes to each other. But their teammates did talk -- about them.

"They're our silent assassins," said tackle VERNON CAREY. "They don't say much. They just go out and get the job done"……"They're both really shy characters," said center BRETT ROMBERG, "but, man, they work"……"You rarely even see them talking to each other in the locker room," said guard SHERKO HAJI-RASOULI. "Once in a while, you'll see them sitting beside each other on the couch, but they're not saying anything. They're not social butterflies." To say the least!

THE ALASKAN HOTBED: In 2000, it was MAO TOSI for Arizona. This year it could be BRANDON DRUMM.
The Colorado fullback could become the latest Alaskan-born/-reared product to play in the NFL. There have been nine such players since 1970 from the 49th state. Considered to be the most heavily recruited player in Alaska history, Drumm placed No. 17 on Sports Illustrated's list of the Top 50 Alaskan Athletes of the 20th Century. After setting state high school records as a senior at Anchorage's Service High for single-season yards and touchdowns, Drumm had to go "outside," as the locals call everywhere outside the state, to continue his career. "There's not a Division I football program up there," says Drumm. "Everybody was happy for me."

KICKER WITH THE SLIPPER: Whatever works. That's what Cincinnati kicker JONATHAN RUFFIN feels. The Bearcats' first-ever consensus All-American wears a ballet slipper on his kicking foot. "It's something I picked up in the 10th grade," says Ruffin. "I was on the playground. A guy who had been a college kicker was out there practicing. He was wearing a slipper. I tried it and liked it. The slipper's made of thick leather, but you can really feel the ball on your foot. Real light. The lighter the shoe, the faster you can swing your leg." Jonathan would love to do his swinging for the New Orleans Saints. He's from Metairie, Louisiana, headquarters of the team.

DRAFTNIKS – NOT SOLD ON CELLS: Miami quarterback KEN DORSEY is definitely not a modern-day man. His Hurricane roommate, center BRETT ROMBERG, says he has no credit cards and didn't own a cell phone till recently. "He's very simple," says Romberg……SUBWAY? NO WAY!: Michigan fullback B.J. ASKEW knew he'd have to put on some pounds last offseason for his new role as a blocker. His solution? Visit his local Subway shop, which enabled him to gain 12 pounds, but brought up a thought. "For those people who do the ‘Subway Diet' and lose weight," says B.J., "I don't know how they do it"……WATCH OUT, BOOMER, HERE COMES BRANDON: Careful CHRIS BERMAN, your replacement may be on the way! Illinois wide receiver BRANDON LLOYD majored in speech communications, interned at FOX Sports Midwest, and wants to be a SportsCenter anchor. "I like to talk, be funny and silly," he says. "Being on SportsCenter would be fun, and it would suit me well"……FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS: Oklahoma tight end TRENT SMITH has his pilots license……ALWAYS IN MOOD FOR FOOD: Maryland punter BROOKS BARNARD is always hungry. The 6-2, 194-pounder can never gain weight. "I wish I could," he says. That's a mystery, because he eats during practice – and games! He stored his goodies in a shed in the middle of the Terps' practice fields and would sneak over for a munch several times during workouts. On game day, his father would bring him his repast before the game, and Brooks would store it in his kicking net for a mid-game meal. "It was usually a sandwich with mayonnaise stuffed with roast beef," he said, smacking his lips……BOSS-MAN: Talk about a full life! Georgia linebacker BOSS BAILEY – a semifinalist for the Butkus and Lombardi Awards last season -- already has it. He has a wife, the former AMBER KNIGHT; a two-year-old son, KHALIL; and will graduate this spring with a degree in sociology. Amber, who works part-time as a substitute teacher at a pre-school, will graduate this summer with a degree in psychology. "It's hard to imagine," says Bulldogs quarterback DAVID GREENE of Bailey, whose brother is Washington Redskins Pro Bowl cornerback CHAMP. "Boss has school, football and a family. It's not like Boss has a whole lot of free time on his hands. He's a family man"……WISE BEYOND HIS YEARS: TCU linebacker LA MARCUS MC DONALD is smart enough to know he doesn't know it all. A psychology major with a minor in education, LaMarcus knows he can learn – a lot – from his elders. "In my later years, when I'm 60 or 70," he says, "I will be one of those old teachers that has an answer for everything a child asks. No matter what you see or go through, the older crowd is always wiser. They always have something to tell you that you can learn from."

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