Thursday, April 26, 2012
Woolfolk, Van Bergen face uncertainty
By Michael Rothstein
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Troy Woolfolk will likely be in New York City on Saturday, but he won’t be anywhere near the NFL Draft. Actually, the former Michigan defensive back is going to New York to escape the pressure of this weekend.
Unlike former teammates who will likely be drafted this weekend, Mike Martin and David Molk, Woolfolk has no idea whether or not he’ll be selected. That uncertainty has left him like many of the Michigan seniors who will graduate from the university this weekend -- wondering about their future.
The difference is the process for Woolfolk, Ryan Van Bergen and others plays out publicly.
“I’d be willing to be around, if it is not immediate family, then my girlfriend,” Woolfolk said this week. “I don’t want to be getting texts like ‘I’m looking at the first round and I didn’t see you get picked up, what’s up?’ I just don’t want to be caught up in that.
“I want to go to New York and if it is not a football team, I’m not picking up the phone.”
Woolfolk’s phone will be on vibrate clenched in his right hand the entire weekend though. But as far as watching his future become his present, he isn’t interested.
Woolfolk has heard from four teams recently: Houston, Miami, Jacksonville and Carolina. But he has no idea if he’ll be drafted or not.
His preference, though, is to have his future home decided for him.
“If I don’t get drafted, I think and hope I’ll still get a shot by going to camp and showing my ability there,” Woolfolk said. “So it will humble me and allow me to work harder but it’d be lovely to be drafted.
“I don’t care if I’m Mr. Irrelevant, I just want to be drafted. I’ll get that name tatted on me. I want to be Mr. Irrelevant because it means I’m getting drafted.”
Meanwhile, in the state of Michigan, Van Bergen will be sitting in the dining room of his Whitehall, Mich., home with his parents and brother playing cards. They won’t be crowded around a television, either.
The past week has been hectic for the former Michigan defensive lineman, who hopes to be a late-round selection. He said he has heard from around 15 teams, including a conversation with Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. In recent days, Van Bergen said he or his agent spoke with Atlanta, Carolina, Houston, Denver, San Francisco, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle and Baltimore.
It was a spike of late interest, but he knows it might not mean a lot. When he asked former teammate Brandon Graham about the process, Graham told Van Bergen he spoke with Philadelphia once the entire process.
The Eagles selected Graham in the first round.
“I talk to Brandon, LaMarr Woodley, Greg Mathews,” Van Bergen said. “None of them said it was the team they expected to get picked up by. I think it’s exciting.
“The one thing I have going for me is I lived in the military at one point, so moving doesn’t affect me at all. I never had my roots too far established somewhere. I’m ready to go anywhere.”
Van Bergen has started to feel he may get picked or be a high priority undrafted free agent. The television, he said, will be on in an adjacent room, out of his view but within his earshot.
This has always been his plan.
“Ever since I watched it when I was younger, I’d be like ‘that guy should have gone before him,’ and things like that,” Van Bergen said. “Now that I’m the one in that situation, there is no way I’ll be positively influenced by watching the draft.
“I’ll be listening for where the other guys go on my team and that’s that.”
The one thing he is looking forward to -- knowing his future. Since the Allstate Sugar Bowl, Van Bergen has been mostly working out and not playing football. That should change within a week.
“I’m thrilled the whole draft process will be over because then I could stop answering (the same questions),” Van Bergen said. “I wish I could make a T-shirt with commonly asked questions. So many people don’t understand the draft process.
“I’m tired of hearing the question ‘So what team are you going to?’ Like I have some information that I’m holding back from everyone.”
He doesn’t. Soon enough, the whole world will know where he and all of his former Michigan teammates are headed.