Jaguars running back Alvin Pearman remembers the 2005 NFL Draft like it was yesterday. It is not remembered so much, however, for the joy and excitement of being selected as it is for the anxiety and stress that it caused.
Pearman invited his family and friends to spend the weekend with him huddled up in his Charlottesville, Virginia apartment on the University of Virginia campus. Among the group was Pearman's roommate and Virginia teammate, Heath Miller, who was projected to be a first round pick.
The entire process from Pearman's last collegiate game leading up to draft day had been a grueling one. He was fortunate that Virginia head coach Al Groh had spent 13 seasons in the NFL and was able to give him an insight into the process. While January and February were previously spent relaxing and unwinding following the college season, it was different now that Pearman was preparing for his professional career.
He went to California to prepare for the annual NFL combine, working out with other NFL prospects under the guidance of a personal trainer. He worked out at the combine in Indianapolis and at a pro day on the Virginia campus. Pearman wasn't completely pleased with his combine performance.
"The combine was hands down the most stressful point of my life," Pearman said. "The combine can help a lot of guys, but it also hurts a lot of guys. It's a very scrutinizing process and the most important thing is to go through it with a grain of salt. It's completely different from the game of football, a completely different beast.'
Talk among the draft experts had Pearman most likely going from late in the third round to maybe not drafted at all. The party at the apartment lacked excitement for the first five hours until Miller was taken with the 30th pick in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"It was a great relief to see Heath get drafted," Pearman said. "But then I was like, 'wait, now it's my turn."'
The draft day turned into a long day for Pearman and his family as they watched the first three rounds unfold. Pearman thought he would be selected somewhere between the two days, either late in the third round or early in the fourth. The first day was interrupted occasionally by phone calls from interested NFL teams, but nothing materialized. Pearman became edgy around his family and decided to spend some time away from the apartment.
"People don't realize how long the draft is when you are waiting to get drafted," Pearman said. "About six hours into it I wasn't speaking to anyone and kept to myself. My whole family was there so I ended up leaving to be by myself. It's not easy to be social when you are going through something like that."
Early on the second day of the draft, Pearman took several phone calls from interested NFL teams. The Jaguars had the 127th overall pick, the 26th pick in the fourth round. Pearman had heard the Jaguars might be interested, but didn't take anything for granted.
"My agent told me several teams were interested in taking me with their pick in the fourth round," Pearman said. "But the draft is so up in the air that you can't expect anything. I thought it might be Jacksonville as it got closer to that pick, but I started to get really anxious."
The Jaguars made the call and Pearman finally breathed a sigh of relief.
"It was a very special moment for me and my family," Pearman said.
Pearman did not disappoint the Jaguars as he played in all 16 games as the primary punt returner in 2005 and saw extensive action at running back. He ranked second on the club with 986 all-purpose yards, which ranked third in team history for a rookie.
He has advice for any prospect that is slated for the mid rounds in next week's draft.
"It's going to be a long day," Pearman said. "There's a lot of information out there on websites, the gurus, agents and the bottom line is that none of those opinions have any influence on the opinions of the people that actually matter. There is no way to tell where you are going to be drafted. I tried my hardest to ignore all the stuff because all that did was raise my blood pressure."