Penn State offensive lineman John Urschel has periodically provided The Associated Press a look at his journey leading to the NFL draft in a series of diary entries. Urschel is an all-Big Ten guard, a third-team All-American and the Sullivan Award winner as the country's top amateur athlete. He has a Master's degree in math and was awarded the William V. Campbell Trophy as college football's top scholar-athlete. This is his last entry before he finds out what team selects him. He is projected to be taken on the third day.
It is finally here.
This weekend is the NFL draft. I can think back on all the drafts I have watched over the years. When I was younger, I watched with awe. I was in awe of the freak athletes and superstars that made up each draft class. But once I got older, I looked at the draft differently. In college, I pulled for my teammates while watching, and had hopes that someday my name would be called.
This year I finally think I have the right perspective. Each name that you hear called has a unique story attached to it. Each story has its own blend of roadblocks, setbacks, doubts, and even failures. No career is without them. But this makes the determination, perseverance, and successes that much more meaningful. And this is not to say that hearing your name on draft day is the ultimate success. I can assure you, it is not. It is a milestone marking the transition into the final chapter of football. We have all had our share of collegiate success. It is an opportunity for each of us to determine how our respective stories will end.
My story will stay with me wherever I go. I believe mine to be one of humble beginnings and a burning desire to succeed. I am humbled every day to have the opportunity to be an ambassador for football, mathematics, and the student-athlete ideal.
However, I would be remiss If I didn't recognize all the people who touched my life along the way. All the teachers, professors, coaches, teammates, staff, fans, friends, and family who have helped mold me into the man I am today. My mother deserves the most recognition: for constantly sacrificing so that I could have an easier life than her and have the opportunity to achieve my hopes and dreams. I am proud to have been able to represent my university with honor and class. To be able to give back to a university and community that has given me so much. But I am ready for this last chapter in my athletic career; ready to give everything I have to ensure it ends the right way. I will watch this weekend to see what team decides to call my name. And I may even celebrate, quietly. But with the celebration of this milestone also comes the realization that the toughest part is yet to come. It will take everything I've got, and then some, to ensure that I may be able to continue to play the game I love for many years to come.
Cory Giger, who covers Penn State for The Sentinel from the Altoona Mirror, handicaps the Nittany Lions:
LB Glenn Carson
A steady yet unspectacular three-year starter who made the plays in his area but lacked big-play ability; led team with 90 tackles (43 solo) last season while recording one sack, four tackles for loss and three pass breakups. Mel Kiper Jr. called him one of the most underrated inside linebackers in the draft, but he's still not likely to go before the sixth round and could go undrafted.
DT DaQuan Jones
A two-year starter for the Lions, he followed in the footsteps of other recent DT standouts (Hill, Still, Odrick) and became the team's most effective interior linemen during his senior season; finished 2013 with 56 tackles (33 solo), three sacks and 11 1/2 tackles for loss. With good size and strength, he's seen his stock rise in recent weeks and could go as early as the second round; most likely third round.
WR Allen Robinson
The most successful receiver in school history, he set Lions' record with 97 catches last season, breaking his own mark of 77 from 2012; also set PSU record with 1,432 receiving yards a year ago while catching six TDs; averaged 119 yards receiving per game. This draft is loaded with WRs, most underclassmen, which has dropped him into late-second or early third-round territory; that's got to be disappointing after some projected him for possibly first round a few months ago.
G John Urschel
Legendary for his brains, he also was very good on the field as a two-year starter, anchoring the right side of the line; a math scholar, he gained enormous notoriety for his intelligence and recently won the prestigious Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete. Fourth round, because he's not quite as big or strong as an ideal NFL lineman; some have projected a move to center for him.