This could be a historic NFL draft for four players with ties to the county as they await to hear their name called by a professional organization.
The draft starts today as it will be livestreamed on the NFL Network, ABC and ESPN starting at 8 p.m.
Former Chapel Hill High players Josiah Coatney and Cam Gill are expected to be late round selections along with former New Manchester High standouts Brian Herrien and Tyler Simmons.
Herrien and Simmons played at Georgia while Coatney was a starter at Ole Miss and Gill played at Wagner College.
“I’ve just been counting down the days,” said Gill, a two-time All-American outside linebacker. “It has always been a childhood dream to get the opportunity to play in the NFL.”
The Cincinnati Bengals have the top draft pick while the Atlanta Falcons will have the No. 16 pick.
Since the school opened in 1999, Chapel Hill has never had a player drafted, which is the same with New Manchester, which opened in 2011.
Because of circumstances related to coronavirus pandemic, the NFL modified its plans for the draft. The draft will run today with the first round, the second round on Friday at 7 p.m. and the final five rounds Saturday at noon.
All four players are expected to be picked in the later rounds.
“I feel good about everything,” Coatney said. “I’m just being patient with everything.”
Coatney and Herrien were among the 337 players that were invited to the NFL Combine workouts in Indianapolis in February. At the combine, players got to workout and go through timing and drills in front of NFL personnel with other position players.
Gill wasn’t invited to the combine, but had a solid workout at the Wagner Pro Day where he impressed NFL personnel with his 40-yard dash time and ability to do linebacker and defensive back drills.
Georgia and Ole Miss had to cancel their Pro Day activities because of the virus.
All the players have been in contact with NFL personnel through texting and FaceTime.
“I’ve had some good talks with some NFL people,” Gill said. “It is exciting to talk to the NFL people, especially those you see on TV on Sundays. I’m taking nothing for granted. I’m hopeful that someone will give me that call for an opportunity.”
Coatney said he was pleased with his combine showing.
“I felt that I did enough with a good showing,” Coatney said. “I was happy with the opportunity to go to the combine. I’m just making sure that I stay in shape and be ready when my opportunity comes.”