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Long Day As Adeyanju Waits to Hear Name

April 29, 2006

CHICAGO (AP) _ The NFL draft is on all of the televisions in Victor Adeyanju’s house, and his brothers come and go, checking to see how he’s doing.

The defensive end from Indiana is one of hundreds of college players enduring the longest day of his life Saturday, watching and hoping for that one phone call that will tell him he’s an NFL player.

``I’m nervous, of course,″ Adeyanju said, smiling slightly. ``I’m just seeing what’s going on, hoping and waiting.″

Mario Williams woke up knowing he would be the first player taken, and a few lucky others were assured of hearing their names called shortly after. For almost everyone else, though, Saturday was shaping up to be a very long day.

``It’s going to be awhile, isn’t it?″ his oldest brother, Charles, says after the first 10 picks are made.

Adeyanju knew he wouldn’t go in the first round. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound end is considered somewhat raw, but with tremendous potential as a pass rusher. He had 6 1/2 sacks his senior year at Indiana, and he’s expected to be taken somewhere in the first three rounds Saturday.

He doesn’t care which team drafts him, and neither does his family. They just hope someone picks him.

``I’m not nervous,″ said Adeyanju’s father, Joseph. ``Maybe it has something to do with my beliefs. Whatever they’ve asked him to do, he’s done it. So let the chips fall where they may.″

Joseph and his wife, Deborah, are originally from Nigeria. Both came to the United States more than 30 years ago in search of better opportunities, but they never imagined it would lead one of their six children to the NFL. Education was their priority. Victor has already earned his degree, and Charles, the oldest child, is working on his master’s.

The other four children are all in school. Even Deborah went back in 1996 to get her sociology degree, graduating in 2003.

``He kept saying he loves to play football. If that’s what you want to do, go ahead,″ Deborah said. ``He has a passion for football. I just want him to be able to fulfill it.″

The Adeyanjus are a close family, so everyone gathers at Joseph and Deborah’s house on the south side of Chicago for the draft. Victor headed for the basement, where his Indiana helmet sits near the TV and a souvenir action figure of him hangs on a wall.

While his girlfriend studies for her last final at Indiana, he quietly watches the draft. During commercials, he reads a book or plays video games.

Joseph is upstairs cooking, and his brothers wander between the living room, their bedrooms and the basement. They check in on Victor, but try not to crowd him. They are anxious, too, and don’t want to make him any more nervous than he already was.

``I’m really proud of him,″ Charles Adeyanju said. ``It’s just a dream come true.″

They pause whenever a pick is made, looking at the nearest TV, and there often is quiet discussion about what it might mean for Victor. The phone rings occasionally, someone wanting to wish Victor luck or find out if there’s any news.

So far, though, he’s just waiting.