To college football players aspiring to be pros, the National Football League's draft days can be compared to going on a blind date.
It's simply a waiting game and most aren't sure what to expect. You can be courted to the big dance by Bob Irsay of the Indianapolis Colts or Jack Kent Cooke of the Washington Redskins.
Some go early, while others arrive late.
Some even get stood up altogether.
The latter shouldn't be the case for South Carroll grad Mike Mooney when the NFL draft begins today. The 6-foot-6, 316-pound All-Atlantic Coast Conference offensive tackle from Georgia Tech will be home in Carroll County awaiting a call from an NFL general manager -- who and when is yet to be determined.
"I'm nervous and very anxious -- I'd just like it to be over with and know where I'll be," Mooney said.
"I talked to about 15 to 20 teams (at the scoutingcombine earlier this year). It's a big secret game. Teams don't wantother teams to find out who they like so they keep things pretty much under wrap.
"It seems the players are the last ones to find out."
Mooney believes he will go anywhere from the second to the fourth rounds, while Mel Kiper Jr. -- a draft analyst for ESPN -- projectsMooney to possibly go a little later.
"I see him going in the fourth or fifth round," said Kiper.
"He's got great size. He's a hugekid with decent speed and feet. He needs to get a little stronger and watch his weight."
Mooney came to a struggling Georgia Tech program in 1988 and played a major role in turning things around.
"I haven't coached a player who has come as far as he did in his years atGeorgia Tech," said former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Ross, now with the NFL's San Diego Chargers.
"We knew he was a good athlete out ofhigh school, but there was a degree of uncertainty of how good of a football player he wanted to become. All the question marks we had came out positive."
"He's worked hard, is a very smart football players and one of the toughest kids I've ever coached. Over the years, he became a leader in our program."
It all came together in his junior year in 1990 when the team shared the mythical national championship with Colorado.
"I came into a very good situation," Mooney said last week. "The program wasn't very good when I first came, so I got an opportunity to play early on. I progressed as our team progressed and as time went on, we improved."
"It all came together my junior year -- we had a dream season and I was a big part of it. We had agreat offensive line with four seniors with me."
"It's exactly how I wanted it. I was looking for an ACC championship and came away with a ring and a national championship."
Of the four seniors he played along side in that junior year, two are in the NFL. Mooney plans to be the third.
"He has all the things pro football people are looking for," Ross said. "He has great size and outstanding feet.
With Mooney anchoring a suddenly young offensive line, Tech finished with a 7-4 record last fall.
Out of the shadow of the four seniors of the previous year, Mooney received much individual recognition -- including the All-ACC selection and a number of honorable mention All-America honors.
He concluded his college career with a solid showing in the Senior Bowl and also was pleased with his showing in the NFL combine a couple of months back.
"The Senior Bowl is the first, big chance for the pros to watch you play," he said. "It's not a winning or losing thing as far as the game's concerned -- it's more of anindividual thing. I felt I did OK up there.
"The combine went pretty well, too. It's the first time they (pro scouts and coaches) can sit down and talk to you. They test you in different athletic areas -- 40-yard -- and stuff like that -- I ran the 40 in about 5.4, which was about average."
All the pass protecting and 40-yard dashes arebehind Mooney, for now.
All he can do is watch ESPN's live first-day coverage of the NFL draft on Sunday and hope for the phone to ring.
So Mike Mooney, who would you like to talk with on the other side of the phone line?
"I'd love to be a Skin. I'd like to stay on the East Coast if possible, but it's not really that big of a deal."