Kliff Kingsbury is among those who this week will turn a watchful eye toward the NFL Draft proceedings, which begin today at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
The event has turned into a national spectacle, with many players fulfilling a lifetime dream of reaching the game’s highest level. The riveting drama plays out in front of a television audience of millions.
In addition to hoping a number of Texas Tech products hear their names called, Kingsbury is also anxious to see where and by whom some of the players he coached at Texas A&M last season, including likely No. 1 pick Luke Joeckel, are selected.
All the while, Tech’s 33-year-old coach is likely to reflect upon his own draft experience, which took place 10 years ago this month.
After a distinguished career as Tech’s quarterback, Kingsbury felt like he had a good chance to be drafted, but there were certainly no sure-fire guarantees. It’s a process he summed up as “intense.”
Exactly 200 picks after Carson Palmer was taken first overall by the Cincinnati Bengals, Kingsbury was taken in the sixth round by the New England Patriots, providing a good ending to a stressful draft process that lasts for months.
“You hear all these different things and you never know how it’s going to work,” said Kingsbury, Tech’s second all-time leading passer. “It’s just sheer relief when you finally do hear your name called, whatever day that may be. Then you go and try to make the team.”
Kingsbury tried to do just that for a number of professional squads in the NFL, Europe and Canada. He was a perpetual underdog, a role the current crop of Red Raider draft hopefuls has adopted in recent months.
Former Tech players hoping to join the NFL ranks this season aren’t likely to hear their names called on the first day of the draft. Tackle LaAdrian Waddle and safety Cody Davis are probably Tech’s best hope of having a player drafted at all, though quarterback Seth Doege, safety D.J. Johnson, wide receiver Darrin Moore and center Deveric Gallington are among those who could have an outside shot of being selected.
If the draft isn’t an avenue into the league, proving their worth in free agency could be the next step for these former Tech players.
Wherever their paths lead, Kingsbury has a simple message to this group of unheralded but determined Red Raiders, one he wishes he’d grasped himself a decade ago.
“After going through it — and you don’t see this at the time, but older coaches and players will tell you — it’s not about where you’re drafted,” Kingsbury said. “It’s about what you do when you get there. It doesn’t sink in until you’re done playing.
“Those are the truest words you can speak. People are going to draft you at different times. All that matters is what you do when you show up.”
Follow Nick on Twitter