Bulldog trio wonder what's under the tree

Remember that feeling of anticipation when you were a kid and the last days before Christmas couldn't end soon enough?


Well, three local Bulldogs have rekindled those feelings this week. Only instead of Christmas, this weekend's NFL Draft could bestow great gifts upon them. They'll take cash instead of a new bike or video game.

Laney's Corvey Irvin, North Augusta's CJ Byrd and Lincoln County's Jarius Wynn, -- all graduated Georgia Bulldogs -- are among the hopefuls waiting to hear if their names will be called during the seven rounds of the draft that cover Saturday and Sunday. It's Christmas Eve all over again for them.

"As I got older Christmas didn't hit me like that, but now it seems like I'm growing up all over again," said Irvin. "You really can't sleep at night you're so anxious and impatient and can't close your eyes. The last couple of weeks I have been dreaming about it and everybody has been talking about it."

Irvin and Wynn, both defensive lineman, have been projected to go as high as the third round on Saturday. Byrd, a safety, is hoping to be a second-day pick or sign with some team as a free agent. They're all itching for the opportunity to take their talents to the next level.

"I'm feeling pretty good and getting a little anxious," said Byrd. "I'm just ready for the day to be here. Honestly, I'm trying to keep it off my mind. It really hasn't set in on me yet that this is going to have a great impact on my future."

Said Wynn: "It's in the air right now and I'm just waiting on the day. It's just been my dream just to get there and I just pray for it every day."

Of the three, Irvin has stirred up the most pre-draft buzz. He made a name for himself with a strong showing in the Capital One Bowl and the Senior Bowl. Then he performed well at the invitation-only scouting combine, interviewing with the Panthers, Cowboys and Cardinals. He was invited to private workouts with the Bills and Lions.

"When I got to the Senior Bowl I just embraced the moment and showed everybody what I had," Irvin said. "That increased my stock very well, as did the combine."

Irvin also believes his experience turning his life around at Georgia Military College impressed several teams on the character front.

"That shows the NFL scouts that I can handle adversity when it counts," he said. "I didn't get catered to by a Division I school all my life. I had to go through something to get to the next level and sacrifice two years of my life to get to that level.

"I ain't played my best football yet. I've got a lot more football left in me and I'm ready."

Wynn also went through Georgia Military with Irvin on the path to Georgia.

"It was a good experience and I just thank God for letting me experience it," Wynn said.

While not drawing the same amount of attention as Irvin, Wynn's combination of size and speed could land him an opportunity as an end or third-down tackle. Whether he's drafted or invited as a free-agent isn't weighing heavily on him.

"Whatever it takes I'll do." said Wynn. "I know I'm not going to go first or second (round), but I've heard everything from third all the way down. We'll just have to wait and see."

Byrd was the most heralded of them all coming out of high school, but his performance at Georgia was solid if not flashy. He was disappointed when he didn't get invited to the combine in Indianapolis.

That meant Byrd needed to wow the scouts who showed up in Athens at Georgia's pro day in March. While everyone was there to see Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno, Byrd made the biggest impression with his sprint times and leaping ability.

"He was the one guy that jumped out at me," ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay told TotalUGA.com after the workouts, adding that the performance might have moved Byrd from being undrafted to a potential late-round pick.

"I knew going into the pro day I had to do something to get the teams looking at me," Byrd said. "I thought it was a good time to show my talent and I thought I did a good job of opening their eyes after maybe they overlooked me. I just went out there and did my best and hopefully they'll give me a second chance."

At least seven teams have been talking to Byrd. Like Wynn, however, Byrd isn't going to get down on himself if the call doesn't come on draft day and he has to wait to sign as a free agent to attend some team's training camp.

"I'm just looking for a chance just like at pro day to show my talent and go from there," Byrd said.

This weekend all three will settle in with family and friends at their homes and watch the draft unfold. That they have a chance at all to be a part of it is something they've been working toward for years.

"I'm going to seize the moment because it is a dream come true," Irvin said. "How many little kids growing up in the Augusta area say one day I'm going to be an NFL player? Not many. It's a dream come true."

Only one or two more NFL shopping days until they find out for sure.

Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219 or scott.michaux@augustachronicle.com.


WHAT: 2009 NFL Draft

WHERE: Radio City Music Hall, New York

WHEN: Saturday-Sunday

ON TV: 4 p.m. Saturday on ESPN; 10 a.m. Sunday on ESPN



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