The NFL Draft is where dreams suddenly become reality for aspiring professional football players.
Everything leading up to the moment a player is selected by a team is anxious anticipation, full of uncertainty. By the end of the week, former Sam Houston State running back Timothy Flanders should have answers.
Flanders should have an idea for where he will live, work and for how much money. Advisers are telling him he’s at best a fourth-round pick, but all it takes is one team to make a surprise decision.
Ever since his pro day March 18, Flanders has been playing the waiting game. The draft was pushed back to May 8-10, whereas it’s normally held in late-April.
The all-time Southland Conference rushing and scoring leader was back in Huntsville on Sunday for the Sam Houston State athletics banquet before traveling back to his hometown Midwest City, Okla., where he’ll wait out the final hours of the draft process.
Flanders soaked in his final moments with college peers before life changes drastically.
“I’m just a few days away now,” Flanders told The Item. “I’m pretty excited, anxious and nervous at the same time because you never know what would happen. I kind of see myself getting picked up on the third day (fifth through seventh rounds). There’s nothing wrong with that. Everybody wants to get drafted. I want to get drafted. Twenty or 30 years down the road, I want to say I was in the 2014 draft class.
“But at the end of the day, regardless of whether I get drafted or not, I’m going to sign with a team.”
It was kind of a coincidence
Not too long ago, Flanders was the new kid on the block at Sam Houston State. He made a late arrival in 2010, but soon the Bearkats realized who the starting running back would be for the foreseeable future.
Wearing No. 16, an unusual jersey number for the position, Flanders seemingly came out of nowhere to establish himself as the top running back in the Southland Conference his redshirt freshman season.
Bearkat fans can thank former offensive line coach Derek Warehime for making it all come together. Four years ago, Flanders was at Kansas State looking for more playing time, while Sam Houston was in a position similar to where it is today – making a significant coaching staff transition.
Warehime, in his first year as offensive line coach with the Kats, got a call from one of Flanders’ high school coaches in the spring of 2010. Sam Houston had an extra scholarship available, but Flanders couldn’t leave Kansas State until he finished a summer course in July.
“Everybody was excited about him,” Warehime recalls from showing Flanders’ film to former head coach Willie Fritz and offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse. “He got to us like when school started or something like that. We got him in school and he ran with it. He’s a good kid, a stud. I’m so glad it worked for him because he’s as good as any kid that’s ever come out of (Sam Houston).”
The Warehime and Flanders families had known each other for years prior to Timothy becoming a college football player. Warehime’s aunt, uncle and cousin were in a car accident which left his aunt in a nursing home, where Flanders’ father Anthony worked.
Warehime’s father Nick is the head coach at Oklahoma’s Del City High School, in the same district as Flanders’ Midwest City High.
Four years later, a mere coincidence has led to an outstanding college career that’s earned consideration at the professional level.
“It didn’t have anything to do with me except having that connection with a high school coach and being from the same area,” Warehime said. “But other than that, Tim did all of it and I’m glad he had an opportunity to do it.”