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Big 12 could have five in first round

By Kent Pulliam

From The Kansas City Star

April 18, 2001


Kansas State quarterback Jonathan Beasley expected to spend this spring on the baseball diamond for the Wildcats, perhaps honing pitching skills he developed in high school.

But now, after an unexpected whirlwind of activity in December and January, Beasley will spend this weekend at home in Phoenix watching the NFL draft in anticipation that his name might be called.

"I just want to be given the opportunity," Beasley said. "Saturday, I am more likely to be at the pool or the mall or somewhere. I'll try to have fun. But Sunday, I'll be glued to the television set."

He will joined, figuratively, by many other Big 12 players, as NFL teams make their annual selections Saturday and Sunday. The Big 12 had 52 players invited to the NFL scouting combine in February.

Texas defensive tackle Leonard Davis and Missouri defensive end Justin Smith are expected to be the top two Big 12 players picked. Two more Longhorns, defensive tackles Casey Hampton and Shaun Rogers, and K-State wide receiver Quincy Morgan also could be first-rounders.

Morgan seems to be up and down on the draft projections, and Rogers has a couple of injuries that could affect where he is taken. He was injured before arriving at the scouting combine and has since had complications after ankle surgery. He needed a second surgical procedure to replace a screw in the ankle.

Several other Big 12 players are projected to go in the second or third rounds, including Baylor safety Gary Baxter, Oklahoma linebacker Torrance Marshall and K-State defensive tackle Mario Fatafehi, defensive ends Monty Beisel and Chris Johnson and tight end Shad Meier. Kansas' Moran Norris also could be a second- or third-round choice, as could some Nebraska players, including center Dominic Raiola and linebacker Carlos Polk.

K-State and Nebraska had the most players invited to the NFL scouting combine (10 each) and Texas A&M had nine. However, an invitation to the combine isn't an indicator that a player will be drafted.

Beasley knows that. He isn't considered among the top quarterbacks in the draft. He views it philosophically, saying: "I wasn't listed with them during college, so what's the difference now?"

Beasley wasn't even considered draftable until late in the season. He wasn't invited to the combine until after K-State had arrived at the Cotton Bowl. Then he played in the East-West Shrine game and the Hula Bowl all-star game after the season, starring in both.

"I thought I was going to be able to play baseball," Beasley said of this spring. "The day after the Cotton Bowl we were at the airport, and I was planning to go home and work out with my high school coach to try and start practicing some baseball.

"My mom checked her answering machine at home. That's when the East-West Shrine game called. About two hours later, the Hula Bowl. On my way home, I was working three different cell phones getting the travel arrangements."

He'd like nothing better than to have to do more traveling after this weekend.

 

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