REINEKE FORD   ||   NEWS UPDATES

NFL draft prospects consider life in the big time

Comment: Off

This May 6, 2014 photo shows NFL Draft prospect Kony Ealy, a defensive end from Missouri, getting a haircut during the 5th Annual NFL Pre-Draft Gifting & Style Suite at the Sean John showroom in New York. Ealy is among dozens of prospects on the National Football League’s annual draft, with 32 players per round and seven rounds, begining Thursday night at Radio City. Ealy is projected to go late in the first round. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

This May 6, 2014 photo shows NFL Draft prospect Kony Ealy, a defensive end from Missouri, getting a haircut during the 5th Annual NFL Pre-Draft Gifting & Style Suite at the Sean John showroom in New York. Ealy is among dozens of prospects on the National Football League’s annual draft, with 32 players per round and seven rounds, begining Thursday night at Radio City. Ealy is projected to go late in the first round. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

This May 6, 2014 photo shows NFL Draft prospect Kony Ealy, a defensive end from Missouri, getting a haircut during the 5th Annual NFL Pre-Draft Gifting & Style Suite at the Sean John showroom in New York. Ealy is among dozens of prospects on the National Football League’s annual draft, with 32 players per round and seven rounds, beginning Thursday night at Radio City. Ealy is projected to go late in the first round. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

This May 6, 2014 photo shows NFL Draft prospect Calvin Pryor, a safety from Louisville, holding a pair of headphones at the 5th Annual NFL Pre-Draft Gifting & Style Suite at the Sean John show room in New York. Pryor is among dozens of prospects on the National Football League’s annual draft, with 32 players per round and seven rounds, beginning Thursday night at Radio City. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

This May 6, 2014 photo shows NFL Draft prospect Morgan Moses, an offensive tackle from Virginia, during an interview at the 5th Annual NFL Pre-Draft Gifting & Style Suite at the Sean John showroom in New York. Moses is among dozens of prospects on the National Football League’s annual draft, with 32 players per round and seven rounds, beginning Thursday night at Radio City. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

This May 6, 2014 photo shows NFL Draft prospect Sammy Watkins, a wide receiver from Clemson, during an interview at the 5th Annual NFL Pre-Draft Gifting & Style Suite at the Sean John show room in New York. Watkins is among dozens of prospects on the National Football League’s annual draft, with 32 players per round and seven rounds, beginning Thursday night at Radio City. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Buy AP Photo Reprints

NEW YORK (AP) — Wearing diamond studs and pressing a cellphone to his ear, Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy saunters into a gift suite, compliments of Diddy, and closes his eyes as he slides into a barber chair for a trim.

He’s looking serious and busy like the pro he may soon be when the NFL draft is over.

Ealy, the swag swirling around him, from luggage to Ciroc, is among dozens of prospects on the verge of big time, hopefully leaving old lives behind and heading to the circus of media, big money and a shot at stardom.

The NFL’s annual draft begins Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall. Ealy is projected to go late in the first round. Does he worry about where he’ll land, considering he never left his home state for college?

“Don’t matter, ’cause now it’s a business. You have to treat it like a business,” the straight-faced Ealy said Tuesday between his visit to the Old Spice grooming station and a round of interviews at Diddy’s Sean John headquarters, just a few blocks from where the draft will be held and one of his many stops during a crazy week of appearances.

Ealy wasn’t much interested in the gift tables, and he shrugged off the pressure.

“I’m handling it like I’ve been there before and that’s what I’ll keep doing. That’s something my high school coach told me and I never forgot it,” he said.

Fellow draft prospect Sammy Watkins, a wide receiver from Clemson, picked up a Hawaiian shirt and a leather bracelet, his Beats headphones on his head as he prepared for another jump outside his comfort zone.

The Florida boy gave up offers from three schools there to head for college in South Carolina, so unlike Ealy, he already knows what it feels like to live far from family and old friends.

Watkins’ head was spinning. This is his first trip to New York City. He had just stepped off the plane and went straight into a few days of crazy, touring the 9/11 Memorial Site, handling phone calls and waiting on his family to arrive.

“I’m gonna have some fun,” he laughed. “I’m gonna go out a little bit with the fam. We’re gonna party it up.”

And the first thing he’ll buy if a big contract comes his way? “I gotta get my mom whatever she wants,” he said. “Whatever she needs.”

Watkins has a good idea how his life would change, on and off the field, if he makes the pros. At college, he said, there was always a party: “We lived it up. I’ll miss the team the most. My brothers.”

In the NFL, “You’ve got to push yourself. The game is quicker, faster. Some of these guys have families, kids and just want to do the job. I’m ready for that,” he said.

Ealy’s already a little bit Hollywood in long leather pockets on his sweats and a matching leather zip shirt.

But, like Watkins, his dreams haven’t changed that much since he played ball in high school. He wants to help his dad make ends meet back in the St. Louis area.

Growing up playing both basketball and football, he can feel his big moment: “Being able to provide for my family, you

Comments

comments

About the Author