KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WCIA) — Less than an hour away from the start of the NFL draft, where lives will be changed for several former Illini, especially Devon Witherspoon.
Witherspoon will make his way on to the NFL red carpet in the next hour on his way to the green room here in KC, that’s where he will wait until his name is called, a projected top 10 pick. Illinois hasn’t had one since 2012.
Most people have Witherspoon projected at number six overall to the Lions, with Alabama’s Bryce Young going number one overall to the Panthers, who traded up with the Bears. Ohio State’s CJ Stroud also in that top three conversation. Both guys, along with Witherspoon, spent time at an area school leading up to tonight.
“It’s a one time opportunity, so you not going to have too many opportunities to walk across that stage and shake commissioner’s hand,” Witherspoon said.
“You know it’s out of my control, where I get picked, what happens,” Bryce Young said. “I don’t have any say in that so this isn’t any pressure stakes for me, it’s out of my hands so I have peace with that.”
“To go to the right fit, I think that’s more important to me,” CJ Stroud said. “If that’s number one, number two, ten, 25, whatever that is, that’s God’s plan and that’s what I’m willing to walk with.”
Stroud is one of the projected eight guys from the Big Ten who will likely go in the first round. Lives will be changed when NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell reads names and players like Devon Witherspoon walk across the stage.
For coaches like Bret Bielema, one of the proudest moments they can have to see all the work pay off. The Illini head coach is attending the draft for the first time.
“Very excited,” Bielema said. “You know, my recruiting and personnel staff hit me up on it a couple of months ago and said there’s something we should do to see the journey come to a culmination. Tonight, wherever Spoon goes it’s going to be awesome to watch it. We’re actually flying to Canada more to be with Sidney and James Brown and Aaron’s going to see Quan. So to have the process from we first got to know them to where we are now, but to have that draft night be possible is pretty cool.”
To watch WCIA3’s Andy Olson’s full one-on-one interview with Bret Bielema check out the link below: