Hearing their names called in the NFL Draft has been a lifelong dream for William & Mary right tackle Colby Sorsdal and Hampton University wide receiver Jadakis Bonds.
They’ll find out whether it comes true by Saturday. Even if it doesn’t, both players — who were evaluated by scouts at the East-West Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas in February — are virtually certain to get NFL invites by Sunday as undrafted free agents.
That could be the best route to an NFL camp for Hampton defensive end KeShaun Moore, although a late draft call is possible. He is the most relaxed of the trio at the moment.
“I’m not going to put too much weight on stuff,” said Moore, a 6-foot-1, 272-pound Suffolk native who earned All-Big South honors for the Pirates as a junior with 13½ tackles for loss and 7½ sacks. “As long as I get a call and an opportunity, that’s all I need.
“I’m just excited and waiting for that.”
Sorsdal, a 6-5, 307-pound first-team Associated Press FCS All-American, is in the best position of the three to be drafted. He was the star blocker for No. 6 W&M, which went 11-2 and reached the FCS quarterfinals as its offense ranked third nationally in total rushing and allowed the fourth fewest sacks.
“I’m very confident because of their overall interest and how interviews have gone,” said Sorsdal, who was projected as a fifth-round pick this week by NFL.com Draft Analyst Chad Reuter. “Hearing my name called would mean everything – it would mean the world to me and my family.
“It’s everybody’s dream to play in the NFL and I’m fortunate and blessed enough to go through with it and actually call it my job.
“It’s almost surreal. It’s almost like `Is this happening?’ and I have to pinch myself sometimes.”
Sorsdal has worked since the season ended in Dallasat OL Masterminds, which was started by Philadelphia Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson. Only 15 NFL prospects are trained there annually by offensive line guru Duke Manyweather, and Sorsdal threw something of a Hail Mary by asking to be one of them.
“Duke Manyweather told me, `I don’t know who you are and these [NFL] teams don’t know who you are, so I’ll get back to you after I watch your tape,’” Sorsdal said. “After watching he said, `You’re in.’
“I shot my shot and it’s really been cool and worked out for me. “
OL Masterminds’ top candidate this season is Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski, who is rated No. 7 by The Athletic among all potential draft picks. But Sorsdal has drawn attention during draft preparation, including a complimentary mention in USA Today during practice for the Shrine Bowl.
“Sorsdal is one of the few small-school players showing that this level of competition is not too big for him,” Gavino Borquez wrote.
Sorsdal says he’s talked to 24 teams and that almost all have expressed interest.
“All I need is to get my foot in the door somewhere and I’m going to make the most of the opportunity,” Sorsdal said.
Bonds has worked out closer to home, in Greenville, North Carolina, with Terrance Cooper, a former East Carolina standout who played nine seasons for five NFL teams. Hampton coach Robert Prunty says he’s heard from 12 NFL teams indicating Bonds could be drafted in the fifth to seventh rounds.
CBS Sports described Bonds in a pre-draft article as “a tall, lean-built boundary wide receiver who does a good job of high pointing the football.” His strengths listed in the report are that he’s a tall pass-catcher who attacks the ball at its peak; consistent producer; [has] great top-end speed; [is a] fluid athlete who builds speed quickly.
Bonds, 6-4 and 205 pounds, used those attributes to amass Hampton career records of 180 receptions and 34 touchdown catches, to go with 2,731 receiving yards. He was credited with the Play of the Day at one Shrine Bowl practice with a spectacular one-handed touchdown grab.
“I’ve enjoyed every step of the [draft-preparation] process and I feel like I’ll get drafted,” Bonds said. “I’ve put God first and stayed prayed-up, so everything will work out.
“I’m just blessed to be where I am at this stage of my life, coming from Williamston, North Carolina. Not many thought I could come from there and play this game I love in Division I.”
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If Moore doesn’t make it to the NFL, he could still live the life of a professional athlete. An intern for World Wrestling Entertainment this past summer, Moore says he has an “open invitation” to train with the organization if football doesn’t work out.
But Prunty says he’s heard from five NFL teams who like Moore’s athleticism, durability and experience at so many positions. That could lead to a late draft selection or, more likely, a camp invite somewhere.
“A lot [of scouts] like the versatility I showed throughout my college career, because I played everywhere on the front seven,” he said of his pre-draft interviews. “I played middle linebacker, outside linebacker, stand-up edge and with my hand in the dirt [on the interior].
“I can play fullback or on special teams; all of those three roles if a team needs me too. I told them I’ll do anything.”
William & Mary boasts three other players expected to receive some consideration from pro teams: tight end Lachlan Pitts, wide receiver Caylin Newton and defensive back Tye Freeland.
Marty O’Brien, 757-247-4963, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter @MartyOBrienDP