Holding the line
Colorado's Stephane Nembot is hoping to become the latest Buffaloes' lineman to be drafted into the NFL. Here's a look at the last 10 offensive lineman from CU to be selected:
2013 — David Bakhtiari, fourth round, Green Bay
2012 — Ryan Miller, fifth round, Cleveland
2011 — Nate Solder, first round, New England
2003 — Justin Bates, seventh round, Dallas
2003 — Wayne Lucier, seventh round, N.Y. Giants
2002 — Andre Gurode, second round, Dallas
2002 — Victor Rogers, seventh round, Detroit
2000 — Brad Bedell, sixth round, Cleveland
1998 — Melvin Thomas, seventh round, Philadelphia
1997 — Chris Naeole, first round, New Orleans
Throughout his career at Colorado, Stephane Nembot often experienced the overwhelming nerves that smacked him before a game.
Just days before the he could potentially be among the 253 players selected in the NFL draft, Nembot figured the same feelings would sweep across his body. Surprisingly, they have not.
"I know I should be feeling nervous, but for some reasons I don't feel anything," said Nembot, who is spending draft week in Van Nuys, Calif. "I don't know what's up with that. You're nervous before the game because you've been preparing and you want to perform well. But this, I really don't have the control. How can I be nervous about something I have no control over?"
Just like the other prospects who expect or hope to hear their names called during the draft, which runs Thursday through Saturday, Nembot has done all he can to impress scouts. Along with Buffs teammates Kenneth Crawley and Nelson Spruce, Nembot now must sit and wait to see if he did enough.
"I feel ready," Nembot said. "I feel I'm in shape. Physically I'm there."
Nembot's physicality has never been a question. The 6-foot-6, 322-pound Cameroon native has always had NFL size and toughness.
Recruited to CU in 2011 as a defensive end, Nembot chose to move to the offense line as a redshirt that fall and spent the rest of his career learning the position. He got much better throughout his career, but often struggled with some of the technique and footwork needed to play offensive line.
During the past few months, Nembot worked tirelessly with former Buff and NFL lineman Matt McChesney, who runs Six Zero Strength in Denver and helped Nembot improve upon his weaknesses.
"I feel like I'm getting better with my footwork," Nembot said. "With Matt McChesney, we did a lot of stuff. We recorded things we were doing from the beginning to the end to see how I was progressing. It was beautiful things to see. I like when I work out and I see the results coming.
"It was really a good thing for me."
Several pundits predict Nembot won't be drafted because he is still a project. Several teams, however, love Nembot's size and athleticism and view him as a potential late-round pick that they can work with over time.
The Cincinnati Bengals were interested enough to send assistant offensive line coach Robert Couch to Boulder to run Nembot's pro day workout last month. Nembot said he has heard from several teams throughout the process. Aside from the Bengals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets, New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens have shown the most interest. The Ravens call Nembot weekly, he said.
"There are teams obviously I can tell that are coming on stronger than others," he said.
It's all a bit overwhelming for a 24-year-old who never imagined he'd be in this position. In fact, Nembot said he played his entire senior season this past fall not believing he was an NFL player.
"I never thought of me playing NFL," he said. "I always thought of others, teammates or others across the country. I just wanted to make sure that I work hard and do the things that I can handle. For me now to be in this situation is weird for me. It's nothing I had planned."
That's part of why he has yet to tell his family in Cameroon that he is a draft hopeful. They have no idea he has a chance to sign a lucrative pro contract soon. He simply tells them he's looking for a job. Once he signs his first contract and gets that first paycheck, he will tell them, he said.
Until then, Nembot continues to pray and hope that the NFL has genuine interest in him. He's not nervous, but he knows this can be a big week for him.
He also knows that at this point all he can do is wait.
"I'm just thinking about hard work," he said. "I'm thinking about, whether I get drafted or go free agent I will bust my (tail) to earn a spot on a roster. That's all I can hope for.
"There's really nothing I can do personally to make any team change their mind, besides preaching the fact that I work hard and I will not be a disappointment."
Brian Howell: email@example.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.