Apr 232009
Authors: Matt L. Stephens

On Saturday and Sunday college football players from across the country will gather with their family and friends around both the telephone and TV with the hopes of hearing their name called as a selection in the 2009 NFL Draft.

This year’s draft, televised on ESPN and the NFL Network, will be somewhat different than last year, at least for Colorado State fans, as the Rams look to have at least two players drafted for the first time since 2007. Running back Gartrell Johnson III and tight end Kory Sperry are projected drafts this year while several other Ram seniors from last season’s New Mexico Bowl Championship team are expected to be picked up as free agents.

Johnson, who rushed for 1,476 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, has been predicted to go as early as the fourth round of this weekend’s draft, but he isn’t letting himself get too focused on that.

“I talked to my agent and I know that the draft is just too crazy to predict,” Johnson told the CSU Athletic Department. “You just never know where you are going to end up. I am just glad that all the pre-draft evaluation is over, so I can sit back, see where I go and get ready to play football.”

Johnson’s partner in the backfield last season, Kyle Bell, is also looking forward to the draft. In 2005, Bell rushed for a CSU sophomore record 1,288 yards and 10 touchdowns. The all-time leading rusher in Colorado high school football history, Bell is expecting to move on and play at the next level, but isn’t getting his hopes too high as far as the draft is concerned.

“Things are going well, I’ve been getting pretty good feedback,” Bell said on Thursday. “Teams put grades on you as far as your ability and what they need, but that doesn’t necessarily translate directly to where you will go in the draft. I’ve pretty much been receiving a garden variety of opinions from around the league as well as free agency. I’m pretty much going into the draft with the mind set that I’m not going to get drafted and go by the way of free agency, but you never know, you just have to be ready for anything.”

Bell said that teams have been looking at him for both the running back and fullback positions.

Aside from the aforementioned players, quarterback Billy Farris, kicker Jason Smith and defensive end Tommie Hill have all hired agents to help prepare themselves for free agency following the draft in case they are not selected.

Stay tuned to Collegian.com this weekend for CSU draft coverage as well as a full recap on Monday.

Football beat reporter Matt Stephens can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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