For now Sidney Tarver's excitement is focused more toward his graduation ceremony next week. But this week's NFL draft could overshadow that event, at least temporarily.
The former Baylor School and Tennessee State University linebacker had such an impressive showing at a recent pro day that he likely worked his way onto several draft boards and is expected to be taken in the later rounds.
"I put myself in a pretty good position, but it's out of my hands now," said Tarver, the son of former Howard football coach Alvin Tarver. "I'm still going to class and just keeping my usual routine. The reality hasn't set in yet that I could be a pro football player, so right now my mind is more on finishing up and getting my degree in business.
"I promised my parents I would earn my degree, so I'm more proud about that right now. But I'm sure I'll watch the draft and have my phone ready, and if I do get a call, I'll make sure I run to the TV to watch for my name to actually be called out. It's exciting."
Despite working out on a chilly, damp day in Nashville at TSU, the 6-foot-3, 236-pound Tarver ran the 40-yard dash in 4.65 seconds, covered 10 feet, 6 inches in the broad jump and had a 32-inch vertical jump. With 11 pro scouts watching, he then bench-pressed 225 pounds 23 times, all of which compared favorably with this year's top 10 projected linebackers. He has an 81-inch wingspan.
"He opened a lot of eyes," TSU coach Rod Reed said. "He definitely stood out among about 18-20 other guys who worked out that day from here or other schools. Sidney is a big, lean kid who can run really well, and all the scouts loved that. They've seen the film of him, too, and know he explodes off the ball and he'll come up and strike you.
"He has a tremendous upside. The guys I've spoken with love his potential and his versatility. He can put his hand in the dirt and be a rush end or play outside linebacker and drop back into pass coverage. He's a sleeper that will make people take notice once he gets into somebody's camp."
Tarver has hired an agent and said he has been in continual contact with the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Diego Chargers, New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers.
While playing both outside linebacker and defensive end last season at TSU, Tarver made 62 tackles, 7.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks.
"I wasn't sure if the film from last year would be enough, but I had a feeling I opened some eyes the day we worked out for the scouts," Tarver said. "I'm proud of what I did, but I'm trying not to think about the possibilities too much."