Brent Russum woke at 9 a.m. Sunday with the NFL draft on his mind. The 6-foot-4-inch, 295 pound offensive lineman passed the morning watching a few rounds, not getting his hopes up. He dreamed of a late-round selection, but knew an injury during his senior season made a free agent offer more likely.
Throughout the day, Russum received calls from his agent, Ken Staninger, who remained upbeat. Staninger passed along that Minnesota was interested, as was Chicago and Tampa Bay. Each said they’d call Staninger later with more information. Staninger told Russum he’d received about a dozen calls already.
By noon Russum needed a break, so he and former Griz players Jason Washington and John Dapper stepped out for a round of golf.
“I had the phone in my pocket and I was paying close attention,” Russum says. “But I was also trying to relax and treat it like just another day.”
Russum shot a 48 in nine holes. Not his best, but “a good base to build off” for summer.
“There wasn’t a lot of anxiety in my mind,” Russum says. “I think perhaps if I wasn’t injured this season there’d be more pressure on me.”
Russum kept thinking about his injury on Sunday. Two players fell over Russum’s leg during a November game against Northern Arizona. The incident aggravated an earlier ankle injury, and Russum had surgery on December 22. He spent nearly three months in recovery.
On the golf course, Russum ignored constant texts and calls from curious friends and family, even his mother. He’d told them not to call because it might mean missing an offer.
As the draft ended Sunday evening, Russum grabbed dinner and did some homework. Two of Russum’s teammates, Colt Anderson and Colin Dow, received news that they’d been invited to Minnesota and Cincinnati, respectively. Staninger told Russum late Sunday that a few teams promised to call on Monday as they continued to fill rosters with free agent invitations.
Russum took the news cavalierly. Come May he’ll have a business degree to fall back on. The NFL would be great, but he sees the situation as beyond his control.
“I’m just waiting for a call,” he says. “I’ve got a cell phone in my pocket. Other than that, I’ve got a life to live.”
And the rest of Sunday night?
“I went to bed with wishful thinking; I had class at 9 a.m.”