Charles Harris had to wait nearly three hours on Thursday before hearing his name called during the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
It probably felt like an eternity for Harris, but it pales in comparison to the wait his former Missouri teammates with similar ambition have braced.
“For three months, you’ve been training for this, and you’ve wanted this your whole life,” former Tigers tight end Sean Culkin said. “It’s something that you’re ready for, and when you get closer to it, it definitely seems like it’s taking an eternity.”
Culkin is among a handful of Mizzou players who weren’t drafted by the end of the third round on Friday and aren’t expected to be selected until Saturday (when day three of the draft takes place starting with the fourth round), if their names are called at all.
MU cornerback Aarion Penton, defensive tackle Josh Augusta and linebacker Michael Scherer, who is recovering from ACL surgery in November, also are strong candidates to sign with a team — though none may get drafted.
“I’ve talked to a good amount of teams who call to check up and make sure I’m healthy and haven’t been in any trouble,” Penton said.
He specifically mentioned Denver and Washington as teams he’s heard from regularly along with Tampa Bay.
It’s the same story for Augusta, who said he lost more than 40 pounds from a playing weight of 390 last fall.
Augusta said he’d spoken with roughly 15 teams and hopes to be a late-round pick, but he also knows he could be a priority free agent.
“These last few days feel like they’ve dragged on forever,” said Augusta, who’s watching the draft at home in Peoria, Ill. “It’s a long wait. I’m nervous.”
He can’t turn away, though.
Augusta wants to see how the draft unfolds and is rooting to hear the names of a few others Tigers called.
“I’ll be watching the whole thing, even though I’m not going to see myself probably until the third day,” Augusta said. “I’ll be watching the whole time, praying for those guys. They’ve been my brothers since I’ve been here, and I just want the best from them as well.”
“We grinded for so many years together and grew such a close bond,” Culkin said. “We went through the Pro Day training process together. I want the best for every one of those guys. I want nothing but the best … and, as the draft goes on, I hope everyone gets what they’re hoping for.”
The reality is some won’t, but Penton — who’s projected as high as a sixth-round pick — doesn’t care where, or even if, he’s picked.
He just wants a chance, whether it’s as an outside cornerback or nickelback and even if it’s as a safety.
“I’m going to always have a chip on my shoulder, because I don’t think I get the credit that I should,” said Penton, a four-year starter who collected 10 interceptions with 31 passes defended in 45 games. “That helps me stay hungry and focus on being the best I can be. I love this game and I love to compete, so I’m going to play my heart out every time I step out there. … I just want to play ball again.”
So do Augusta, Scherer and Culkin — who hopes to be a third-day pick, but he’ll take any opportunity.
“It would be sweet and it would be cool to say, right?” he said. “Not everyone can say that happened for them, but, at the same time, I just want to keep playing and I can bring value to an organization. However that happens, I’m not concerned with, but obviously I want to get drafted.”