Archive for Friday, April 25, 2008

Derek Fine needs a job - and has one in mind

April 25, 2008


Derek Fine left Lawrence. Not by choice, but because he had a burning desire to continue living.

"I completely ran out of money," said Fine, a former Kansas University football player. "I called home and said, 'Mom, I've done my best. I have nothing left, and I'm coming home.'"

Somebody needs a job.

That's precisely what Fine has been training for since finishing up his KU career in January - a gig in professional football. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound tight end is hoping to be a second-day selection in the NFL Draft, and all that work the last three months preparing to impress scouts left him broke.

Call it an unpaid internship.

So he's in his native Sallisaw, Okla., working out on his own and anticipating this weekend's draft. He has heard the best-case scenario of being a mid-round draft pick, but at the very least he expects to get a chance somewhere.

"Anything can happen with the draft," Fine said. "I'm really just trying to lay back and let everything take place and just get ready for whatever rookie camp I end up going to."

Evaluators see a future for Fine, though it would have to be in an offense that can use his specific strengths., the league's official Web site that offers biographies on most prospects, is high on Fine's potential.

"A guy who can pick up blitzes, chip on defensive ends, cancel linebackers at the second level and move the chains in the passing game is very valuable," the Web site writes. "Fine has the ability to be just that type of player, and will likely be selected earlier than most expect."

Several teams have been in touch with Fine, with the New England Patriots, Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars showing the most interest.

"I think that my strength would be me fitting into the right team and the right system," Fine said. "A team where I can be versatile and they can use me for my strengths like my blocking. My blocking is one of my bigger strengths in my entire game - that and special teams. That's what's really going to carry me."

Fine is heading to Tulsa, Okla., on Sunday to his brother's house. That's where he will watch the second day of the draft and hang out with his family, which is scattered across Oklahoma.

It has been a long time coming. After Kansas won the Orange Bowl in January, Fine spent a month in Denver training. He tested well at the NFL Combine and at KU's Pro Day and, with a degree in hand, since has taken on odd jobs to pass the time.

"I've just been trying to pay the bills," Fine said.

He might get a boost soon enough.


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