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Calm, collected Peters isn't sweating NFL Draft

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FB 09_10 UK_Georgia Web 30.jpgAnxious times are upon nine fortunate former Kentucky football players as they await word on the immediate future of their football careers.

The NFL Draft gets underway Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Although no UK players are expected to hear their name called Thursday, nine hopefuls will anxiously await through Saturday's three-day draft.

Among the Kentucky players at large: fullback John Conner, tight end T.C. Drake, offensive lineman Zipp Dunan, offensive lineman Justin Jeffries, linebacker Micah Johnson, cornerback Trevard Lindley, linebacker Sam Maxwell, defensive tackle Corey Peters and running back Alfonso Smith.

Some players like Lindley, Johnson and Conner are mid- to late-round hopefuls. Others, like Drake, Duncan, Jeffries and Smith, are just hoping to hear their names called.

Peters, one of the players that benefited most from the 2010 season, has heard he could go anywhere from the third round to the seventh and final round.

"I am really anxious but not nervous at all," Peters said by phone Wednesday. "I am anxious to see what happens and I am really confident that everything will work out for me and that I will get the opportunity to do what I have always wanted, which is to just be in a camp and have an opportunity to compete to make the team."

The Louisville, Ky., native notched four sacks and 12 tackles for a loss during UK's fourth consecutive bowl season, propelling him into draft consideration by season's end. Peters continued to move up draft boards as he impressed NFL teams in individual workouts, but there's no telling what could happen Thursday when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell takes the podium.

"They don't really show their hands, but I am getting a lot of good feedback," Peters said. "I have heard I may go third round or around there. It is kind of a whirlwind. You don't really know. You just prepare for the worst and hope for the best."

Seven teams took particular interest in Peters prior to the draft, three of which he worked out for and the other four he interviewed with.

"I will go with anything. I am fairly confident that I will be around (Kentucky)," Peters said. "The teams that have shown the most interest, but are not limited to are the teams that are within six hours of here. I wouldn't be surprised at all if I find myself close to Kentucky, like Atlanta or maybe Chicago or as far as New Jersey."

While some sweat it out, the cool, calm and collected Peters is relieved in a way just to have the draft here. Although the benefits are numerous, Peters wasn't hesitant about voicing his dislike for draft process.

"I enjoyed meeting with the teams, but it is such a nerve-racking experience and I have to fight for it and just let it all go," Peters said. "It is difficult because you want to be everything that every team wants, but you don't know what they want so you have to just do your best and be who you are and hopefully they like that. It isn't something enjoyable, but it is necessary and I think it is good to have an interest."

The pre-draft process is long, arduous and sometimes cruel. Players are picked, prodded and scrutinized despite years of tape on the collegiate field. If anything, Peters was bewildered that one of his best features was considered a concern among some NFL teams.

"The main thing that teams question is my passion for the game or if I really have the hunger to play," Peters said. "That kind of thing reflects my personality and the type of person that I am. I feel that I am a well-rounded guy, but I do enjoy playing football. Honestly it just feels like I try my best not to let football define me because that's not who I am."

That's part of the reason the next few days will not be as stressful as it will be for hundreds of other college hopefuls around the nation. No matter what happens Peters is confident his future will work out for the best.

To pass the time during the NFL Draft, Peters said he will spend time with his family and friends in his hometown of Louisville.

"I will do my best to kind of get away from the draft, but I know I will watch some of it but not every minute of it," Peters said. "I will have my phone on me and just keep my eye on it during the picks for the teams that have shown the most interest in me."

If and when his name is called, it won't define him.

"It is going to be an interesting experience and I am looking forward to it," Peters said. "However it turns out, I won't have my mind set on falling a certain place. I will not be upset whether it is the first overall pick or the last pick. I am just looking for that chance to shine."

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