April 25, 2009

Potter, Murtha eager to see how draft unfolds

Zach Potter might be at church or walking down the fairway on the 18th hole of his favorite golf course. Lydon Murtha will be laying low, hanging out with his friends and family.

When you're life is only moments away from completely changing forever, as will likely be the case of both former Huskers by the end of the weekend, you do what you can to keep your nerves as calm as possible.

By the end of the day Sunday, both Potter and Murtha will likely have fulfilled their childhood dreams of becoming professional football players, as both are expected to be second-day picks in this weekend's NFL Draft.

After exceptional careers at Nebraska capped off by impressive senior seasons last year, Murtha and Potter have done all the training, combines and individual workouts and meetings they possibly could leading up to the draft. Now, both can only sit back and wait to see what happens.

"I'm anxious, but I'm not nervous," Murtha said. "I'm just really anxious to see what happens just because I don't know where I'm at. There are a lot of guys that know where they're going to go probably, and they have a pretty good idea. But in my case, I'm all over the board. It's one of those deals where you're just wondering where you're going to go."

In Murtha's case, the 6-foot-7, 315-pound tackle has been projected to be drafted as high as the second round and as low as the seventh and final round. After an impressive performance at the NFL combine in February, where he registered the best overall speed and agility times of any offensive lineman, Murtha said he has continued to workout and stay in football shape while also meeting with several prospective NFL teams.

He said he just got back from a visit with the Miami Dolphins two and a half weeks ago, where he met with the coaching staff and toured the facilities. He said that while nothing was made official, he wouldn't be surprised if the Dolphins were among the teams most interested in his services.

Still, Murtha said he's not going into draft weekend expecting anything. Rather, he's simply hoping for the best.

"I've heard everything under the moon," he said. "It could be real early in the draft or it could be late. I can't even put a finger on it, because some credible sources tell me one thing and then other credible sources tell me something completely different. The waiting game is what I'll have to play and just see what happens. Hopefully it will all work out for the best."

As for Potter, he said he's already ruled out the possibility of being a first-day selection and instead expects to hopefully be taken somewhere between rounds four through seven. Like Murtha, Potter said he's been working out hard since Nebraska's Pro Day in March, trying to stay in the best shape he can so he can hit the ground running at training camp if drafted.

However, while preparing for the NFL has obviously been a priority, it's not as if Potter hasn't had other things to worry about in the meantime.

"Personally, I had a speech due on Friday, so I really haven't thought about the draft too much," Potter said. "I'm still trying to graduate here in about two weeks. I've got a little bit on my mind right now. But the draft keeps popping up every now and then. Teams are calling you and making sure you haven't fallen down the stairs or anything since Pro Day. I mean, it's on your mind, but I'm not nervous or anything yet."

Between training and making sure he graduates, Potter has checked in on some of the latest draft rumors concern where he might be taken. Though he's already ruled out anything before the fourth round, he did notice when ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. said he might be taken as high as the third round.

"I know Mel Kiper came out and said maybe third or fourth (rounds)," Potter said. "I'm just personally happy to know that Mel Kiper knew who I was… All I really want is a chance."

Whatever happens over the weekend, both Potter and Murtha say they'll be more than content with simply getting a shot to prove themselves at the next level.

Potter said making an NFL roster would realize a dream he's had since he was a little kid. Murtha, who has had to overcome countless setbacks over the course of his career due to injuries, said just being in this position is something he at one point never thought possible.

"There was a point in my career where I didn't think I'd be playing NFL football just because I was injured all the time," Murtha said. "There were tons of people who didn't think I could do it, and then again there were people that thought I could. To only be a few days from knowing is kind of a big deal. It's a pretty cool experience."

Draft coverage begins at 10 a.m. CST on both ESPN and The NFL Network, and the actual draft is scheduled to start at 3 p.m.

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