With the NFL draft quickly approaching, a few former Colorado Buffaloes aren't worried about hearing their names called.

For defensive backs Chidobe Awuzie, Tedric Thompson and Ahkello Witherspoon, it's not a matter of if, but when they'll get selected. All three are expected to be the first Buffs picked since 2014.

For several others, however, the next several weeks leading up to the April 27-29 draft will be nerve-racking.

Outside linebacker Jimmie Gilbert, who was one of the most dominant players on the CU defense last season, is viewed as a borderline draft pick. The last thing he wants is to hold a draft party and not get drafted.

"Nobody wants to go free agent," Gilbert said on Wednesday after working out for all 32 NFL teams at CU's annual pro timing day. "It happens, but everyone wants to hear their name called on TV. That's the goal. If I can make that happen, I'll be ecstatic."

The chance to make that happen is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it's one that Gilbert and others have been pushing for since the Buffaloes' season ended at the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29.

Gilbert, who grew up in College Station, Tex., before coming to CU, has spent this winter working out in Dallas. He had a solid pro day and believes he's putting himself in a good position for the draft.


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"Hopefully the coaches liked what they saw with the positional work, individual work," Gilbert said. "I even came and did a couple stuff, as far as pass rush goes."

Getting ready for the NFL meant Gilbert had to make the tough decision to put school on hold. He said he's 15 credits shy of his degree — about one semester — but took this semester off to train for his NFL opportunity.

"I plan on getting my degree," he said. "I've spent 3 ½ years toward it, all summer toward it. I'm not going to let that four years of my life go for nothing. I'll finish with that degree."

Quarterback Sefo Liufau is in the same boat. He's a couple of classes shy of his degree and intends to get that done as soon as possible, but felt it was important to take this winter to train.

"Making sure that when it's all said and done I gave it my best shot and if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out," Liufau said.

Liufau has been training in Portland, Ore., throughout the winter. Like Gilbert, he's a borderline draft choice, who could either go late in the final rounds or sign as a priority free agent after the draft.

Throughout the pre-draft process, Liufau has struggled to prove himself as an NFL caliber passer, but he's confident if he's given a chance, he can succeed.

"I don't think I'm there yet," he said. "I'm pretty honest with myself and I'm pretty honest to other people about myself. I think that with a lot of hard work I can get there. I'm really excited about these next couple of months and just being able to get a shot somewhere."

Several other former Buffs, such as defensive linemen Jordan Carrell and Samson Kafovalu, linebacker Kenneth Olugbode and center Alex Kelley, may not get drafted, but they're doing all they can to earn a shot, as well.

"I always think that," Olugbode said when asked if he's done enough to impress NFL teams. "You just have to check the film. I've done all I can. From this moment forward it's on them."

For all the former Buffs chasing that NFL dream, the time is quickly approaching for them to find out if they'll get a chance, and where.

Gilbert is among the many that will be watching throughout the draft next month. He may not know if he'll hear his name, but believes he's done all he can this point.

"I'm pleased with where I'm at, because it means I have a shot," he said.

Brian Howell: howellb@dailycamera.com, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.