At this time last year, Tysyn Hartman and Emmanuel Lamur were in the same position as Nigel Malone, Jarell Childs and Meshak Williams.
The former Kansas State defenders were coming off productive seasons with the Wildcats, and hoping for a chance to play at the next level.
Both players had an outside shot at being drafted, but their more likely routes to the NFL were through free agency. Sure enough, both players got picked up after going undrafted and went on to have solid rookie seasons.
Hartman, a safety, made 24 tackles while playing in nine games (starting two) with the Kansas City Chiefs. Lamur, a linebacker, made 19 tackles while playing in nine games for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Malone (cornerback), Childs (linebacker) and Williams (defensive end) have each done big things for K-State this year. But their NFL hopes aren’t as clear as Arthur Brown’s. He will get drafted in the first few rounds. Malone, Childs and Williams need to further prove themselves at K-State’s pro day and in private workouts with NFL teams.
Just like Hartman and Lamur did.
“Obviously, we came from the same system under the same coach,” Childs said. “Those guys are great players. If they can do it, I will always think there is a chance for me and the other defensive players on our team.”
Added Malone: “It’s definitely something that I am hopeful for. I don’t base my own success on somebody else’s success, but I’m happy for those guys. They were here grinding with us last year. To really see their hard work has paid off is gratifying.”
Williams’ take: “Some people think I am too small at defensive end, but I think I can make a big impact,” Williams said. “I still have to show up in this game and show what I can do, but I feel like I can make the jump. I feel like I have the speed and the strength. I just need to add a little more weight. The NFL is a different level.”
Of those three K-State defenders, Malone and Williams appear to be the favorites to be drafted.
Childs seems like more of an undrafted free agent right now.
But NFL draft projections mean nothing right now. The college football season isn’t over. A lot can happen between now and when the next NFL season starts. Just ask Hartman and Lamur.
Next up on the countdown: The final blog of the Fiesta Bowl Countdown.
Last time on the countdown: Kyle Klein impressing coaches during bowl practices.
Editor’s Note: On Jan. 3, the Kansas State football team will face Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. With that in mind, I am counting down to the big game at University of Phoenix Stadium by attempting to write 21 blog posts in 21 days. I use the word “attempting” because I can only think of so many blog ideas. I’m confident that I can go 21 for 21, but your help is appreciated. Feel free to send a blog idea (or two) my way at firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter @KellisRobinett.