As hectic as schedules are for college players shooting for the NFL, Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino -- another busy guy -- didn't even have a chance to congratulate two of his three players selected for today's Hula Bowl.
Jayhawk fever will be plentiful in Maui, Hawaii, with Joe Vaughn, Brandon Rideau and David McMillan taking part in the annual all-star game.
Kickoff will be 6 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 (Sunflower Broadband Channel 34).
Vaughn was the only player Mangino was able to reach before the trio left Monday, but it's not because the center is Mangino's favorite.
"I'm very proud of all three of those guys," Mangino said. "They've been great for our program. They've been great to work with, and they'll be great ambassadors to the University of Kansas."
The Hula Bowl is an opportunity for the three to showcase their abilities in front of dozens of NFL representatives. During the course of the week, the three have conducted drills and visited with various pro scouts, hoping for a chance to play for pay this fall.
Based on what Mangino has heard, all three -- plus tight end Lyonel Anderson, who was not selected for today's game -- could receive that opportunity.
"Right now, those four guys are getting the most attention," Mangino said. "But it depends on what general manager or scouting director or player-personnel guy you talk to. Drafting talent in the NFL is just like recruiting high school kids in college. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
"That said, not one NFL team has said anything negative about any of those guys."
|What: All-star game for college seniors.When: 6 p.m. today.Where: Maui, Hawaii.KU players: Joe Vaughn, Brandon Rideau, David McMillan.TV: ESPN2 (Sunflower Broadband Channel 34).Line: West by 3.|
Mangino said one NFL team told him McMillan, a defensive end, would have an opportunity to attend to the invite-only NFL combine, a ballyhooed weeklong event starting Feb. 23 in Indianapolis where the top talent entering the draft undergoes a series of physical and mental testing under the watchful eye of scouts.
The attention for McMillan stems in part from the sensational finish to his college career. A proven durable lineman, McMillan recorded seven sacks (three in the season finale against Missouri), three forced fumbles and 13 tackles for a loss in 2004. He started 36 consecutive games during three seasons and never had a serious injury.
From now until the NFL draft on April 23, Vaughn, McMillan and Rideau will be trying to focus attention to themselves. The Hula Bowl is another way to get their names out there.
In the process, the Jayhawk football program will get some publicity as well -- making Mangino all the more appreciative of the trio's efforts.
"I think it certainly doesn't hurt," Mangino said. "They're going to play on national TV to showcase their talent. People will see we have quality young men in our program as well as good football players."