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A Look Inside the 2009 NFL Draft

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    <span style="">             <span style="text-decoration: underline;">ANOTHER SIDE OF THE 2009 NFL DRAFT</span>               

A compendium of off – and on – the field notes for the 2009 NFL Draft, which starts at 3:00 PM cT on Saturday, April 25 at New York City's Radio City Music Hall:

ALONG FOR THE RIDE: Wake Forest linebacker AARON CURRY will have company this year as he waits for his name to be called at the NFL Draft. Twelve-year-old Bryson Merriweather, a young football player who suffers from leukemia, will be Curry's guest in the green room at Radio City on draft day.

Curry recently met Merriweather at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee and invited him to come along to New York for Curry's big day. Merriweather will also join Curry for some of his predraft activities on the Friday preceding the draft. "We were acting like he was just taking me on a regular tour around the hospital," Curry said of his visit with Merriweather. "Toward the end we ended up outside tossing each other a football and I just started talking about the draft. I just wanted to do something special for a kid that has been through some major struggles and hard times."
PIGSKIN & SHEEPSKIN: An impressive number of players who will be drafted in 2009 already have earned their college degrees, with majors ranging from industrial relations to history.

"The college experience in general prepares you for life, to think and understand the world around you," says Virginia tackle EUGENE MONROE, who completed his degree in sociology this past winter. "It equips you to flourish in any environment."

A sampling of 25 draft-eligible players who already boast their college degrees:

PLAYER
COLLEGE
 MAJOR
 QB  Tom Brandstater
 Fresno State
 Communications
 WR Deon Butler
Penn State
 Law and Justice
 C Antoine Caldwell
 Alabama  Human Environmental Sciences (3 Years)
 TE Chase Coffman
 Missouri  Business
 LB Aaron Curry
 Wake Forest
 Sociology
 LB Maurice Crum
 Notre Dame
 Sociology
 WR Jarett Dillard
 Rice  Political Science
 S Michael Hamliin
 Clemson  Management
 QB Graham Harrell
 Texas Tech
 History
 G Greg Isdaner
 West Virginia
 Finance
 G Herman Johnson
 LSU  Communications and Sports Studies
 G Andy Levitre
 Oregon  Finance and Sociology
 C Alex Mack
 California  Legal Studies
 WR Mohamed Massaquoi
 Georgia  Psychology
 LB Gerald McRath
 Southern Miss.
 Coaching and Sports Administration
 G Jamon Meredith
 South Carolina
 Sports and Entertainment Management
 T Eugene Monroe
 Virginia  Sociology
 DE Brian Orakpo
 Texas  Youth and Community Studies
 LB Jason Phillips
 TCU  Criminal Justice
 DE Nick Reed
 Oregon  History
 C Q.A. Shipley
 Penn State
 Labor and Industrial Relations
 T Jason Smith
 Baylor  Recreation and Leisure Services
 RB Brannan Southerland
 Georgia  Consumer Economics
 QB Pat White
 West Virginia
 Liberal Arts
 RB Javaris Williams
 Tennessee State
 Computer Business Systems

STREAMLINED DRAFT/FAST FIRST ROUND: Last year's first round was completed in three hours and 30 minutes, roughly half the time of first round of the 2007 draft, which took six hours and eight minutes. It was the shortest first round since 1990 – which took three hours and 24 minutes. The shortest first round since 1970 was in 1972 – two hours flat.
First-round durations since 2000:

YEAR
TIME
 2000  5:30
 2001  4:18
 2002  5:48
 2003  4:58
 2004  5:24
 2005  5:47
 2006  4:48
 2007  6:08
 2008  3:30


GOT ANY ADVICE?: Southern California's MARK SANCHEZ is the latest USC quarterback to catch the eye of NFL scouts. As he prepared for the 2009 draft, Sanchez sought advice from two former Trojan QBs who are now NFL starters: Cincinnati's CARSON PALMER, himself a former No. 1 overall draft pick, and Kansas City's MATT CASSEL.

"Carson and Matt said, don't try to figure out where you'll go, because you'll drive yourself crazy," said Sanchez. "The other thing was, don't fall in love with a team because you might be heartbroken on draft day. I'm just trying to work hard the whole process long, work out for all the teams I need to, make all the throws and show them who I am."

In addition to Palmer and Cassel, Arizona's MATT LEINART and Minnesota's JOHN DAVID BOOTY – both USC products – give the Trojans four NFL quarterbacks on current rosters. Sanchez is poised to soon become the fifth.

The top five colleges with the most active NFL quarterbacks (includes QBs on active rosters and unrestricted/restricted free agents as of April 15, 2009):

COLLEGE ACTIVE NFL QBs
Michigan 5 (Tom Brady, Todd Collins, Brian Griese, Chad Henne, Drew Henson)
Southern California 4 (John David Booty, Matt Cassel, Matt Leinart, Carson Palmer)
Oregon 4 (Kellen Clemens, Dennis Dixon, A.J. Feeley, Anthony Hargrove/Joey Harrington.aspx">Joey Harrington)
Boston College 3 (Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Ryan, Brian St. Pierre)
Washington 3 (Mark Brunell, Damon Huard, Marques Tuiasosopo)

FAMILY MATTERS: Cornerback LONDEN FRYAR of Western Michigan and quarterback CHRIS PIZZOTTI of Harvard, who are potential 2009 draftees, are both directly related to former No. 1 overall NFL Draft selections.

Londen's father IRVING, a wide receiver out of Nebraska, was the top choice of the New England Patriots in the 1984 NFL Draft. Pizzotti's grandfather FRANK "BOLEY" DANCEWICZ, a Notre Dame All-American, was selected with the top pick in 1946 by the Boston Yanks.

If Fryar earns a roster spot this fall, he will become just the second son of a No. 1 overall pick to play in the NFL, joining BILLY CANNON, JR., a first-round selection of the Cowboys out of Texas A&M in 1984. His father BILLY, SR., who played 11 seasons in the NFL, was the first player selected in the 1960 draft by the Los Angeles Rams. "My dad, he was a great receiver," says Londen, a two-time All-MAC performer. "I'm just writing my own story right now."

TROJAN HORSES HELD IN HIGH REGARD: USC's stellar trio of linebackers – BRIAN CUSHING, CLAY MATTHEWS and REY MAUALUGA – are all likely to be selected at this year's NFL Draft. If all three turn out to be first-round picks, they would be the first threesome of linebackers from the same college to be chosen in Round 1 of the same draft.

"I don't know that I've ever seen three players come out that are as heralded as this group, and we've had some good linebackers come through there," says Jacksonville Jaguars head coach JACK DEL RIO, himself a former USC All-American linebacker.

Only five pairs of college linebacker teammates have been selected in the first round of the same draft:

DRAFT YEAR COLLEGE FIRST-ROUND LINEBACKERS
2006 Florida State Ernie Sims (No. 9, Detroit) & Kamerion Wimbley (No. 13, Cleveland)
2006 Ohio State A.J. Hawk (No. 5, Green Bay) & Bobby Carpenter (No. 18, Dallas)
2004 Miami (FL) Jonathan Vilma (No. 12, N.Y. Jets) & D.J. Williams (No. 17, Denver)
1974 Ohio State Rick Middleton (No. 13, New Orleans) & Randy Gradishar (No. 14 Denver)
1970 Oklahoma Steve Zabel (No. 6, Philadelphia) & Jim Files (No. 13, N.Y. Giants)

A BAKER'S DOZEN: Thirteen interesting notes on the draft class of 2009:

DID YOU KNOW THAT…

Texas Tech WR MICHAEL CRABTREE: A former high school quarterback, Crabtree learned the wide receiver position for the first time as a redshirt freshman. He went on to set numerous NCAA records in his two-year Texas Tech career, including the most touchdown catches in a two-year span (41) and the most consecutive games with a receiving touchdown (13).

Southern California LB BRIAN CUSHING: His experience leading up to the draft will be chronicled by NFL Network's "Path to the Draft" studio show.

California LB ZACH FOLLETT: Has a wood-cutting hobby and has shaped plywood into life-sized replicas of several Cal teammates.

Kansas State QB JOSH FREEMAN: Father, Ron, was the defensive coordinator on Josh's Grand View High School football team in Kansas City, Missouri.

Ohio State LB JAMES LAURINAITIS: Is the son of world-renowned wrestler Joe Laurinaitis, who is nicknamed "The Animal."

Pittsburgh LB SCOTT MC KILLOP: Interned with the Pittsburgh Pirates during the summer of 2007, assisting the MLB team's special events department.

Virginia T EUGENE MONROE: Is the youngest of 16 children in a family that includes 10 brothers and five sisters. Was also one of former Virginia teammate CHRIS LONG's invited guests at Radio City last year when the Rams selected Long with the No. 2 overall pick.

Mississippi T MICHAEL OHER: His rise from humble beginnings in Memphis, Tennessee to a top college football player was chronicled in "The Blind Side," a book by Michael Lewis. Lewis' New York Times bestseller is currently being adapted into a Hollywood movie.

Texas DE BRIAN ORAKPO: Was a finalist for the 2008 Lott Trophy, which recognizes collegiate defensive players who best exhibit integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity.

Oklahoma G DUKE ROBINSON: Sold peanuts, programs and baseball caps at Atlanta Braves home games from the time he was 14 years old until he entered college. Also the great nephew of music legend Smokey Robinson.

Baylor T JASON SMITH: Attended W.T. White High School in Dallas, Texas and has returned on several occasions to speak with students about the importance of education.

Georgia QB MATTHEW STAFFORD: Was recognized as a member of the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll as a senior.

Hawaii DE DAVID VEIKUNE: Cousin, Tony Fulilangi, was the fourth-ranked light heavyweight boxer in the world at one point and fought George Foreman.

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