NFL fate comes Saturday for Zips

“Charlie Frye started the trend in 2005. Domenik Hixon followed in 2006. Andy Alleman made it an official streak in 2007. For three consecutive years, former Zips’ football players have been drafted into the National Football League. Will the streak continue this weekend when the 2008 NFL Draft takes place in New York City? Jabari Arthur, Reggie Corner and Davanzo Tate believe it will.”

Charlie Frye started the trend in 2005. Domenik Hixon followed in 2006. Andy Alleman made it an official streak in 2007. For three consecutive years, former Zips’ football players have been drafted into the National Football League.

Will the streak continue this weekend when the 2008 NFL Draft takes place in New York City?

Jabari Arthur, Reggie Corner and Davanzo Tate believe it will. They have worked in the weight room and on the practice field since their senior seasons ended Nov. 23 in hopes of making that happen and fulfilling their childhood dreams.

Since the trio worked out for 14 NFL scouts and team representatives from the Arena Football League 2 and the Canadian Football League at UA’s Pro Day March 19, the players’ time has been split between personal workouts and meeting with possible suitors.

Corner said the past few weeks have proven to be an exciting, but emotionally draining experience.

The last few weeks have had their ups and downs, he said. You start to stress about certain things at a time that you can’t control, but for the most part, it’s been a great experience.

I’m very thankful for it. I look forward to seeing where I will end up.

The Mid-American Conference’s leader in interceptions in 2007 said that he’s worked out for the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns on two occasions. Corner added that he’s talked with several other teams.

Arthur has the best odds of becoming one of the 252 players to have his life change with one call from an NFL team executive during the two-day, seven-round media frenzy. The wide receiver is the school’s all-time leader in receptions (184) and receiving yards (2,653). The All-American also set the school record for most catches in a game (15) and receiving yards (223) in 2007. Arthur further legitimized himself as a pro prospect with five catches for a game-high 88 yards in the Hula Bowl Jan. 12.

Tate made the most of his audition at UA’s Pro Day by achieving personal bests in completing a 40-inch vertical jump and an 11-foot broad jump. His 40-yard dash time ranged from 4.26 to 4.35 seconds. The three-year starter’s 17 pass breakup last season led the MAC and ranked third-best nationally.

Corner started every game at cornerback for the Zips the past four seasons and his seven picks in 2007 rank fourth-best on the school’s all-time single-season list.

Despite their on-field success and rising draft stock, you won’t see highlight films of any of them on the numerous draft specials to air in the coming days. The earliest you’re likely to see any analyst discussing their athleticism, upside or intangibles is Sunday afternoon, during the draft’s later rounds.

That’s quite alright with Corner, and probably, the other two low-key Zips.

I really don’t pay the computer stuff any attention, Corner said. When the draft comes April 26 and 27, that’s what matters.

It is what matters – it’s what all NFL prospects have been focused on since their seasons ended months ago. But, it is not their only shot at living out their dream of playing at the sport’s highest level.

Whether or not they’re drafted this weekend, all three are likely to have the opportunity to prove their value in an NFL training camp. What really matters is what the former Zips do once they report to a camp and starting playing.

Ask former Zip Chase Blackburn, who latched on with the New York Giants in the summer of summer 2005 as an undrafted free agent if he’s had any sleepless nights lately over his draft status. My guess is that he’ll glance down at his Super Bowl ring and smile.