NFL draft prospects consider life in the big time

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 8, 2014 at 7:05 am •  Published: May 8, 2014
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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 the big time, hopefully leaving old lives behind and heading to the circus of media, 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."



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