The tension must have been excruciating for all those Hurricanes waiting... and waiting... and waiting Thursday, and then for more than an hour Friday, to be chosen in the NFL Draft.
I know it was tense for me, sitting there watching pick after pick, and wondering, "WHEN is a UM player going to get some love?''
I felt bad for cornerback Brandon Harris and receiver Leonard Hankerson, but I knew that the pain of waiting (and in Hankerson's case, in my opinion, being bypassed way too long) would eventually turn into the jubilation of being wanted. I've seen it happen before -- many times (except, of course, when tailback Clinton Portis -- one of my favorite characters -- left his own draft party early in disgust before he was chosen 51st overall by Denver in the 2002 draft.)
After all that, UM ended up with five players drafted -- the most so far, along with LSU, in this year's draft.
BRANDON HARRIS TO HOUSTON TEXANS WITH 60TH PICK (LATE IN SECOND ROUND)
"He was frustrated seeing so many picks go by,'' said Brandon Harris' older brother and former UM All-American runner Tim Harris. "We told him the past two days that wherever he landed it would be the best spot for him to be successful. We knew today was going to be the day, it was just about where he'd go. To be on a team with five former Hurricanes (Chris Myers, Andre Johnson, Rashad Butler, Eric Winston and Darryl Sharpton), you feel like it's the perfect spot.
"Guys like Andre Johnson and Darryl Sharpton, who grew up in Miami just like Brandon. And my dad [former UM football assistant Tim Harris Sr.] coached Andre Johnson when he played at Miami High during his early years there. We've been friends with the Sharptons since we all ran on the same track team since Brandon was about 6 years old.''
Harris was in a hotel with about 25 friends and family members, including his closest teammates: Sean Spence, Travis Benjamin, Marcus Forston and Davon Johnson.
Once he got picked, Harris was a new man. He's ecstatic to be a Texan.
HANK HAD IT ESPECIALLY HARD BEFORE GOING 79TH OVERALL (MID 3RD ROUND) TO REDSKINS
Some thought Hankerson would go Thursday. Most thought he'd go Friday -- but not in the third round. Hankerson was wiped out emotionally by the time he got picked by the Redskins.
He told me he was very nervous and upset before he finally got the call from the Redskins.
"It was very tough seeing seven other receivers get drafted before me,'' Hank said. "Now I can't wait to get on the field and prove those teams [that bypassed me] wrong. Once they called my name after all those long hours, after feeling like I was never going to get picked, the tears just came.''
Hank promised to work as hard as he could to make the Redskins proud. He hopes former Canes receiver Santana Moss stays with the team so that they could play together.
Hank has never been to Washington, D.C.
SPEEDSTER DeMARCUS VAN DYKE IS UNDERSTANDABLY THRILLED (81ST OVERALL PICK TO RAIDERS)
I spoke to cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, his mom (briefly) and his grandfather. Ecstatic might be an understatment.
"Oh my goodness, we're having a good time!" said Jerome Lovett, his grandfather. "God has blessed this family and have teards of joy. Everybody was jumping up and down, hugging each other and just praising God.''
"They called him on the phone. They talked. Then he jumped up and raised his outstretched arm and shouted, 'I'm ready to be a Raider! I'm ready to be a Raider!' Everybody stood up and started hugging and crying. Once he saw it on TV, tears started flowing. We cried on each other's shoulders. This was a long time coming.''
Van Dyke told me that just before he got the call from a Raiders official (he couldn't even remember who because he said he was too excited), he got a text from "someboody I don't know saying 'congrats.' I'm like, 'Who is this from?' Five minutes later, I was so happy."
Van Dyke said he is booked for a flight to Oakland Saturday morning to meet the media.
> ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. was especially hard on Brandon Harris. He called him a disappointment and underachiever in 2010 and said he was an inconsistent player. He said he regressed, that he didn't show "run supportability,'' that he missed tackles in the open field, that he "freezes some in coverage.'' Kiper called him a "roll-of-the-dice pick. He needs to step it up.''
Fellow analyst Jon Gruden jumped right back at Kiper. "You sounded grouchy right there, Me,'' Gruden said. "Brandon Harris can play nickel and he can play corner. I realize he needs to play more physical. The whole Hurricanes [team] didn't play up to their standards. But this guy has talent.''
I didn't speak to defensive end Allen Bailey (22nd pick in third round ), but I'm a big fan of his and wish him the best in Kansas City. Also didn't speak to offensive tackle Orlando Franklin (14th pick in second round -- 46th overall). Kiper said of Franklin: "He maybe could have been a top 15, top 20 pick if he had played up to the level of his talent.''
Stay tuned for tomorrow's draft coverage on Day Three. More should be drafted from UM, including linebacker Colin McCarthy and Damien Berry and/or Graig Cooper. Maybe others will be picked, as well.
SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
P.S. By the way, how about Al Golden having two of his former Temple Owls drafted so far -- one in the first round? I say that bodes well for the Canes. He obviously gets the most out of his guys, or so it seems.