JWB 042509 sintim, clint 04.jpg

Clint Sintim watches the announcement on TV that he is drafted by the New York Giants, on Saturday, April 25, 2009. John Boal/News & Messenger

DEON BUTLER

2004 Hylton High School graduate

Selected in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks

“Definitely a ton of excitement and some relief as the past couple months before that day and night all I worked for was this one moment. All the combines, all the interviews, all the dieting.

So I was finally happy the moment was here. There was nothing left to do besides hear my name. Having my close friends and family around at the house was awesome as they all shared the same excitement and nervousness.

Also ridiculously nerve wrecking as I heard so many projections from second round to sixth round so I had no clue what was true. I could be waiting a long time or not long. I had no clue. I saw so many mock drafts, listened to so many experts, talk to so many scouts and teams and position/head coaches. It was impossible to tell who was being authentic and who was just doing due diligence and playing the game.”

CASE DEBRUIJN

1978 Stonewall Jackson High School graduate

Selected in the eighth round of the 1982 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs

“Some of the local newspapers were saying I’d go in the third or fourth round. That’s pretty much all I read. It was exciting. My family was with me in Pocatello (Idaho) in my apartment.

{The] draft wasn’t like it is today. It might have been on TV. I knew I wasn’t going in the first or second rounds. The third and fourth rounds went by. I feel like I was waiting forever. The next day, I went pretty quickly before noon. [Chiefs head coach] Marv Levy called and told me they were going to pick me. I think I was the second punter drafted. [Chiefs’ special teams coach] Frank Gansz had come out and timed my punts.

I was happy. It didn’t matter what round. I knew I was competing with one or two others. I felt I had a good chance at pro ball and getting drafted.”

BRANDON HOGAN

2007 Osbourn High School graduate

Selected in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers

“Draft day was a day full of celebration. I dreamed about that day since I was little and to finally see my dreams come alive after years of hard work and dedication to being an athlete is a feeling I can’t describe.

When something like that happens you’d think you’d be able to look back and grasp every single piece of it. Truthfully, though, you go through a blackout stage. I started to think about how my life had been up to that point and the trials and obstacles I made it through outside of the sport. My family came to mind. I wanted to make them proud and do everything I could to break the barriers we lived through. I wanted better. Overall that day was a blessing and I wouldn’t have traded that experience for the world.”

JEFF NIXON

1975 Gar-Field High School graduate

Selected in the fourth round of the 1979 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills

“I was interviewed by the Richmond Times Dispatch just a few days before the 1979 draft. They asked me where I would like to play. I said anywhere but Buffalo. That's because just a couple of years earlier they had what was known as the "Blizzard of '77" and I remember watching the news coverage showing the snow drifts that were as high as homes and cars that were totally buried. Those images were burned into my mind, and I thought that I could never live in a place like Buffalo.

On draft day I gathered with a handful of friends at my dormitory room at the University of Richmond. I waited patiently for the call.

I was projected to go in the 2nd or 3rd round, but when the 3rd round ended, I was still on the board and my anxiety level was starting to go through the roof. Unfortunately, I had gotten a bad rap as being a little slow because some scout who worked for a National Combine came to Richmond in 1978 (the first day of our Spring Training Camp) and he timed me on our grass practice field - after practice - with pads on - the day after I had just gotten back from partying for two weeks at Spring Break in Florida. He clocked me at 4.7 and the word spread to all the NFL teams - good instincts, but a little slow.

Fortunately, the Bills came to Richmond to evaluate me right before the 1979 draft. They timed me on our Tartan Track at our stadium, so they knew I was a lot faster than the scout from the Combine said I was. Of course they kept that info in their back pocket just in case I was still around when they had a couple picks in the 4th round.

I finally got the call in the 4th round (87th pick overall). I was disappointed that I didn't go higher in the draft because I was a first team All-American and had 23 career interceptions (I'm still 7th place in the history of NCAA football for the most career interceptions) What was even more disappointing was the fact that the person who called me was from the Buffalo Bills - the only team I said I didn't want to play for. Nonetheless, I put on my best face and acted very excited about their decision to draft me.

When I came to the Bills’ first mini-camp they knew they got me for a steal. I ran the fastest 40 yard dash on the team - 4.46. I led the team in interceptions my rookie year (1979) with 6 - and I was leading the NFL with 5 interceptions in the first 4 games of 1979 when I had a terrible knee injury and was out for most of that season. My knee was never the same, and after 4 surgeries I called it quits.

But, I never quit Buffalo! I've lived here since my rookie season - over 40 years now - and I'm not going anywhere. That's because I fell in love with the City and the people........and no amount of snow can make me go!”

CLINT SINTIM

2004 Gar-Field High School graduate

Selected in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the New York Giants

“It was a pivotal point in my life. Now that I’m older I wish I had documented it more. All the hard work and sacrifice and to be able to share it with all those people. I didn’t know at that moment what life in the NFL would entail. It was a special moment. I know now at 34 I was fortunate to have that experience.

[I spoke] to Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese [the night Sintim was selected]. Eli Manning called me.

The Giants completely surprised me. I did not many conversations with them. I did not see them on my radar.”

David Fawcett is the sports editor for InsideNoVa.com. Reach him at dfawcett@insidenova.com

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