WCIA — From a position change to an NFL Draft pick, Kerby Joseph is making the most of his opportunity as an NFL Draft hopeful after a breakout season with the Illini, he’s ready to hear his name called this weekend. The Orlando native is back home in Florida watching the draft. The safety is projected anywhere from a third to fifth round selection.

“I’m just going to watch it with just family, like my brothers, my sisters and my mom, my dad,” Joseph said on a Zoom call Thursday night. “Just watching it at home, we’re hoping for first round, but if we don’t go for first round, then tomorrow’s a day for sure and then tomorrow just going to be again in like friends and families or inviting the friends over, my friends over and the closest people to me and then watching it all together.”

Joseph only played for Bret Bielema one season but the Illini coach has produced dozens of NFL Draft picks. Watching the 6-foot-1 defensive back blossom was rewarding for Bielema in the short time they’ve known each other.

“You know Kerby’s been such an interesting story,” Bielema said. “The first time I met him he didn’t know what position he wanted to play or where he wanted to play and he has been extremely guided by Coach Walters and our entire defensive staff, so very excited for him and his opportunity that he has but also a lot of other guys who gave us their extra year, their bonus year to come back and do what they did. A lot of those guys have been climbing the boards here as of late and it’s an exciting weekend ahead of them.”

The second and third rounds are on Friday, with rounds four through seven on Saturday. Illinois hasn’t had a first round draft pick since 2012.