When Thursday night proved otherwise, the six-time Super Bowl champions wasted no time in making Dupree the newest member of their storied franchise.
"It's a great experience right now," Dupree said. "I'm so blessed to be in this situation. I can't wait to get to Pittsburgh and get to work."
Riding high off the momentum of 7.5 sacks in a first team All-SEC senior season, Dupree became a household name among NFL general managers following his performance at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. The 6-foot-4 former Georgia high school basketball state champion recorded a remarkable 4.56-second 40-yard dash and 42-inch vertical leap.
"This young man has some measurables," said ESPN analyst and Super Bowl winning head coach Jon Gruden. "He can jump right out of the gym. ... I like the way he competes."
Dupree joins a once-historical Steelers defense in desperate need of youthful rejuvenation. Pittsburgh saw longtime defensive standouts Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor, as well as 27-year-old Jason Worilds, retire this offseason. The Steelers ranked 18th in total defense in 2014.
"He has position versatility," Gruden said. "Keith Butler, the new defensive coordinator, has to be happy that Bud Dupree fell this far down the board. Hard to find a young man with this type of strength, speed, and power."
Dupree becomes UK's 14th first round selection in program history, and the first since 2003. The one-time tight end joins Danny Trevathan, Wesley Woodyard, and Avery Williamson as the fourth Kentucky linebacker in the NFL.
"They expect me to come in and have an impact right away," Dupree said. "I just have to prove them right and go in, work hard, listen to the older guys and the coaches and I'll be good."
While it was no secret that the Steelers would be looking toward the defensive side of the ball when making their first round selection, Pittsburgh GM Kevin Colbert shed light on the situation shortly before Thursday's big night.
"I think the cornerback group is good," Colbert said. "The outside linebacker types, which for us is a 4-3 defensive end for some 4-3 teams, this is probably as good a group at that position as I've seen in 10 to 15 years. It's really an exceptional group with a lot of impact-type guys."
Combined with the college statistics and the athletic measurements to back it up, Dupree's work ethic has football fans excited for the possibilities he brings to the table.
"He said he wore No. 2 (at Kentucky) because 'I'm trying to be No. 1, but I'm working like I'm No. 2,'" said ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper, Jr. "You've got to like that attitude, you've got to like that approach of Alvin 'Bud' Dupree."
The wait was a little longer than expected for Bud Dupree, but the Kentucky star appears to have found a good landing spot.
Dupree landed in Pittsburgh as the No. 22 overall pick in the first round. He joins a Steeler team renowned for its defense, and especially its edge pass rushing. We'll have more on this as the night goes on and a story on Friday morning, but in the meantime we congratulate Bud!
Mitch Barnhart didn't wait long to issue the next challenge to the department he leads.
Delivering his speech at the CATSPY Awards - UK's annual celebratory awards show - Barnhart described the successor to 15 by 15 by 15, which called on UK Athletics to win 15 conference or national championships, finish in the top 15 of Directors' Cup standings and achieve a cumulative student-athlete grade-point average of 3.0 by 2015.
It's called 1-3-5.
The goals are as simple as they are lofty.
1 - By the year 2022, Barnhart wants all of UK's 22 teams to win a conference or national championship.
3 - He's calling for a department-wide grade-point average of 3.0 for UK student-athletes each and every semester.
5 - Finally, he's asking UK Athletics to pursue a top-five Directors' Cup finish in the next seven seasons.
"This won't be easy," Barnhart said. "I know that. But 15 by 15 by 15 seemed just as ambitious seven years ago. We didn't let that stop us from pursuing greatness. We went after it anyway. Now, I challenge you to do the same with 1-3-5 because I know we can do it. I know we can become elite."
The word "elite" was a common thread throughout Barnhart's remarks.
The 13th-year athletics director reflected on the start of his UK tenure at the CATSPYs, commenting on the fan support and tradition that drew him to the job in the first place. UK, he said, was a good athletics department that embraced the task of becoming great.
Now it's about taking the next step.
"We're here to take on the challenge to go from great to elite," Barnhart said. "To me, being elite means we are in the conversation for the best athletics department in the country. Individually, it means each of us pursues being the best of ourselves."
Barnhart, an avid climber, likened UK's journey to elite status to scaling a mountain.
"I've thought about this over the last month and I keep coming back to one of my greatest passions: mountain climbing," Barnhart said. "Becoming what we are today has been quite a climb already. It's brought us to within a few thousand feet of the summit, but those final few thousand feet of the climb are the toughest."
To make the final leg of the climb and reach the summit, Barnhart said everyone involved with UK Athletics will have to go to the next level, starting with the student-athletes.
"Are you committed to working, to becoming the best version of yourself?" Barnhart said. "You were brought here because you possess unique gifts. It's on you to develop them."
"Are you willing to embrace the expectations that come with being at Kentucky? The resources that go into supporting you, the facilities you play in and the fans that cheer you on demand excellence. It's on you to make it happen.
"Are you able to put yourself out there? You will never reach the heights you're capable of if you're not willing to make yourself uncomfortable. You're going to have to risk failure to succeed the way I know you can."
Barnhart, ever committed to the growth of UK student-athletes as people, was sure to point out the answers to those questions will determine more than just the department's success over the next five years.
"This is the start of your climb in life and this is the start of our climb to becoming elite," Barnhart said.
Lip sync battle
Shelby Hilton's FaceTime shoutout
Anthony Davis is 4th player in NBA history to average at least 30 ppg & 10 rpg in 1st 4 career playoff games. pic.twitter.com/O8G0pKv6Rc-- NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) April 26, 2015
(1) Golden State Warriors def. (8) New Orleans Pelicans (Anthony Davis), 4-0
Despite 31.5 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks per game in Davis' postseason debut, the Pelicans were swept by the top-seeded Warriors. New Orleans stayed competitive in each contest, including in holding a 20-point fourth quarter lead that led to an overtime loss at home in Game 3. Golden State will face either the Memphis Grizzlies or the Portland Trail Blazers in the second round.
(2) Houston Rockets (Terrence Jones) vs. (7) Dallas Mavericks (Rajon Rondo), HOU 3-1
After playing just 10 minutes in Dallas' Game 2 loss in Houston, Rondo has been ruled out for the remainder of the postseason with a back injury. Meanwhile, Jones continues to thrive in the Rockets' starting lineup despite having played in only 33 games during an injury-riddled regular season. The 23-year-old has averaged 12.3 points and 6.8 rebounds over the series' first four games. Houston claimed the first three matchups by an eight-point average margin of victory, but failed to complete the series sweep Sunday night in Dallas. Game 5 will take place in Houston on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.
(5) Washington Wizards (John Wall) def. (4) Toronto Raptors (Patrick Patterson), 4-0
In a battle of former collegiate teammates, Wall's Wizards defeated Patterson's higher seeded Raptors 4-0 in Washington's first series sweep in franchise history. Wall led the way with an average of 17.3 points and 12.5 assists over the four-game stretch. Poor field-goal shooting notwithstanding, Wall made his living at the free-throw line with a 24-for-28 (.857) performance. Patterson shined for Toronto, posting a 10.3 scoring average (3.0 points higher than in the regular season) and a 7-for-15 (.467) three-point field goal total. Chuck Hayes, who is also on the Raptors roster, logged zero playoff minutes. The Wizards will face the winner of the Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets in the second round.
(3) Chicago Bulls (Nazr Mohammed) vs. (6) Milwaukee Bucks, CHI 3-1
Like Hayes and James Young (whose Boston Celtics were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs' opening round), the 17-year veteran Mohammed has not seen the floor this postseason. Game 5 in Chicago is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. on TNT.