The 2012 NFL draft is starts Thursday evening. Several former Razorbacks will be watching closely as they are expected to get their chance at the next level.
Alyson Courtney sat down with two of them to find out what they've been doing to prepare for the draft and how the next few days could change their lives forever.
Defensive end Jake Bequette and wide receiver Jarius Wright had hugely successful collegiate careers particularly their senior season finishing as one of the top five teams in the country, but the best may be yet to come for Wright and Bequette.
Bequette says, "You know I'll definitely miss the pageantry and just being in front of my home state fans, you know. I'm also ready to move on. I've got high goals for myself professionally and I want to pursue that."
No surprise that Bequette would turn out to be a great football player, after all, his father, uncle and grandfather all played at Arkansas, but he's the first in the family to get a shot in the NFL.
"You know, if I'm lucky enough to get drafted I want to be in the best shape of my life so that I can really impress whichever team selects me," explains Bequette.
To get ready he had little time for celebrating his Cotton Bowl win in January.
Bequette says, "The game was on a Friday or Saturday and I was in the gym training on aMonday."
That intense training began in California, but Bequette, who says he'd be in law school if he wasn't prepping for the draft, really believes training started five years ago. "It's been a real blessing to be able to play in the SEC and have that competitive experience and playing for a coach that's as detailed oriented as Coach Petrino...so many guys in the NFL are SECgraduates."
After Los Angeles it was off to Indianapolis and the Combine where he wasn't just tested physically.
"You spend three days or four days before that doing all kinds of psychological and medical testing and interviews," Bequette explains.
After posting solid numbers at the Combine Bequette had private workouts for several teams.Most analysts have him projected to go in the 5th round.
"My dad listens to all the speculation. He's the guy on the Internet searching for everything,but to me that's pointless because those guys aren't the guys that are going to be drafting me or not drafting me," says Bequette. "I'm just waiting for that phone call over draft weekend and we'll see what happens."
Wright will also be anxiously waiting that phone call.
"It's still kind of surreal to me, still kind of growing on me that I'm about to have that shot in the NFL that I've dreamed about as a kid."
And as a kid Wright was a natural athlete. "Basically when I was younger baseball was my favorite sport," says Wright.
But at Warren High School Wright started shining as a football star and his success continued as a Razorback setting five school records. We met up with Wright at D1 sports in Little Rock and the man who runs the place is the former Hog who used to hold several of those records.
"That's who I grew up watching," says Wright. "I grew up watching guys like Anthony Lucas."
Lucas was drafted by the Packers in the fourth round in 2000. He knows first hand whatWright and Bequette are going through.
Lucas explains, "The biggest thing I learned and I thought was very challenging was that it's a business now."
Wright, who has a degree in criminal justice, already recognizes the business side. He, too, has spent countless hours working out in California, Fayetteville and other cities for NFL teams he can't reveal. He's projected to be drafted as early as the second round and as late at the sixth.
Wright says, "I mean everybody would love to go first round but I tell most people I just want to go in the draft. I just want to play in the NFL, you know. I feel if I just get that chance I'll make the rest happen."
And who can doubt him? One thing that's never been questioned is Wright's focus.
"To myself I always think it's just football," says Wright. "It's just at a different level...so, I like to think to myself I haven't made it yet so that keeps me hungry and, you know, keeps me wanting to do more."
And despite the showing off that you see in the NFL, Wright's humility will likely carry over to the next level --
Courtney asks, "When you get in the NFL all the players have a touchdown dance...so have you thought about it at all? Do you have good moves?" Laughing Wright says, "I'm not much of a dancer...ha."
Wright and Bequette have surrounded themselves with great support systems and the idea of potentially signing a big money contract in just a few days doesn't have either of them set for a spending spree.
Bequette says, "My one splurge? I kind of need a new driver, so that might be the one buy."
Wright adds, "I'm not much of a splurge guy, but I do think I need a new vehicle."
The cardinal rule for draft prospects is to not talk about what team they would most like to play for but growing up both Wright and Bequette were big Dallas Cowboy fans. Most Arkansans would love to see them playing close to home but the truth is predicting what team will draft them is almost as impossible as some of the plays these guys made last season.
Wright says, "Yeah that's what's so crazy about it. I have no idea where I'll go, who really likes you. People watch you and things like that but, you know, you really have no idea what they're thinking or anything like that, so, as of right now I know just as much as y'all do."
And the one thing we know - no matter what their futures in the NFL, their history asRazorbacks will stay with them and their fans for a lifetime.
And by the way, don't expect big draft parties out of either of these guys - Wright says he'll be watching at home in Warren with just a few close family and friends. Bequette says he won't even be watching. Instead, he hopes to be playing golf or fishing with his dad while the draft is going on.