Elkhart native awaiting an NFL Draft call

His phone is ringing off the hook
Posted on April 26, 2012 at 1:00 a.m.

Bill Beck

Side Lines

One word. Crazy.

In a nutshell, that’s how the last few weeks have developed for Nathan Palmer.

Being an NFL Draft prospect will do that to you.

Palmer, a Central High School graduate and Northern Illinois University standout receiver, has fielded dozens of phone calls from coaches, scouts and his agent. His hope, of course, is to hear that phone ring with a life-changing opportunity Saturday when the latter rounds and selections are unveiled.

But for the next few days, Nathan Palmer will wait. And wait.

“This is the most nervous I’ve ever been or will be I think,’’ Palmer said Wednesday. “It’s been a crazy process.”

We were two minutes into our phone conversation, talking about various pieces of advice he’s received and his Pro Day workout at NIU, when he stopped in mid-sentence.

“Can I put you on hold?” he asked quickly.

Like I’d actually object to “Napalm’’ taking a potential career-altering phone call? No way.

We lost our connection after nearly six minutes on hold, but he called right back.”

“That was the Miami receivers coach,’’ Palmer said matter-of-factly. It’s been that way every day, he said.

He’s made personal visits to San Francisco, Seattle and Indianapolis — a total of 18 NFL teams have made contact.

From football to family to his favorite foods, Palmer has been peppered, poked and prodded with questions. Part of it is just business, part has actual meaning.

There are two different conversations — fact-finding and skeleton-digging.

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

“One is where they are trying to confirm your number, seeing if you’re healthy and that’s mostly scouts, secretaries,’’ Palmer said. “The second is the one where they tell you they’re narrowing it down where they want to know what kind of guy I am, asking about things that may have happened to me, whether I tell a story or accept blame and hold myself accountable, what vision they have for you.”

Palmer’s most comfortable vision is not dwelling on the emotional roller coaster of theater which ESPN has produced over the years.

While Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State and Michael Floyd will be in New York City tonight waiting for their names to be called, Palmer has a full, though casual, agenda of his own.

No suits, thank you.

Today, Nathan will be in Chicago bowling with, among others, former Chicago Bear cornerback Nathan Vasher.

Friday? It looks like golf with former Domers Darius Fleming and Robert Blanton, who all work out where Palmer does in Chicago.

“I’m not much of a golfer, so it’ll be a fun time,” he said.

Then Saturday, it’s back to Elkhart to join family and friends. Palmer expects Saturday to be his day.

And what a day it could be.

“I’m so excited, I’ve been keeping busy, having a good time,’’ Palmer said. “What people don’t see in this is all the calls that get made. Here it is a day away from picking, and I’m still getting calls.

“It will be crazy the next three days ... so many mixed emotions. The hard work has been done. I left my body of work on film.”

It’s been nearly 20 years since Goshen’s Rick Mirer was the NFL’s No.2 overall pick.

Palmer’s no high prospect. He knows that.

But its the lower rounds where teams often uncover diamonds in the rough to fill in their rosters.

Once the coveted star-quality names are siphoned off the draft board, I’ll proudly await, as most of the Elkhart County should, to hear or see the name “Nathan Palmer’’ across my television screen.

I’m excited, too. Good luck, Napalm.

Contact Bill Beck at bbeck@etruth.com.


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