Four years ago, Marcus Henry was expecting to play junior-college football because nobody recruited him.
He went to Kansas University thanks to a last-second offer and became teammates with Anthony Collins, a basketball player who still was getting used to football. Further down the roster was Derek Fine, a lightly recruited prospect at tight end from eastern Oklahoma.
All three had humble-at-best beginnings to college football. And all three now are poised to get paid in a big way in the NFL.
Collins, Fine and Henry all were selected Sunday between the fourth and sixth rounds of the NFL Draft, putting KU's final total of 2008 picks at four. Remarkably, every one of them - including cornerback Aqib Talib, picked in the first round Saturday - were one- or two-star prospects ignored by every big program coming out of high school.
Collins, an offensive tackle, was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth round. Fine went to the Buffalo Bills later in the fourth, and Henry, a wide receiver, was snagged by the New York Jets in the sixth round.
"My guess is the team at Kansas is made up of a lot of guys like Derek Fine," said Buffalo Bills tight ends coach Charlie Coiner, who gushed about his new player Sunday. "Guys that are tough guys, guys that are versatile, guys that are smart and, in the end, guys that are football players."
Those intangibles were enough to make Fine one of the true success stories of the draft. A 6-foot-3, 250-pounder, Fine took on a slightly altered role for his senior season and caught 46 passes for 394 yards and four touchdowns.
Meanwhile, he maintained his strong reputation as a blocker, and it paid off when Buffalo went for him because of his versatility. Bills personnel said Sunday they expect Fine to play a traditional tight-end role for them.
"To me, he was the most complete tight end," said Brad Forsyth, the Buffalo scout who evaluated Fine. "He's not a flashy guy, but he does everything well there at Kansas."
Collins, meanwhile, slipped a bit past the rounds for which he was aspiring. He was projected as a second- or third-round pick, but fell into the middle of the fourth.
"It was a struggle waiting around the room," Collins said. "It was crazy, but I'm glad that it's all over with, and I'm glad I have my home."
The Bengals won't rule out putting him anywhere on the offensive line except center, though line coach Paul Alexander said Collins looks most like a right tackle at this point.
"I think he can play either tackle or either guard," Alexander said.
Henry, meanwhile, needs no projection. He caught 52 passes for 1,014 yards and gives the Jets a tall, rangy wide receiver they need. Henry had a workout with the Kansas City Chiefs recently. Being picked by the Jets came a bit of a surprise.
"I got a couple of calls from scouts from the Jets," Henry said, "but I really couldn't tell that they had a strong interest in me."
Kansas had four players picked in the NFL Draft for the first time since 1996. It's arguably the program's best showing in the NFL Draft since 1977, when the Jayhawks had three players selected in the first two rounds, including defensive back Nolan Cromwell.