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Former CU Buffs duo awaiting NFL call

Mustafa Johnson, Will Sherman hoping to get drafted this weekend

BOULDER, Colo. - March 22, 2021: Former Colorado offensive lineman William Sherman goes through workouts at the Buffs' annual pro timing day at The Champions Center. (University of Colorado Athletics).
BOULDER, Colo. – March 22, 2021: Former Colorado offensive lineman William Sherman goes through workouts at the Buffs’ annual pro timing day at The Champions Center. (University of Colorado Athletics).

After months of doing all he can to impress scouts in the National Football League, Will Sherman has been in North Carolina this week, trying to speed up what has been a long week already.

“Just trying to keep busy,” he said. “Finishing up school, work out – everything to keep me busy.”

Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
BOULDER, CO – December 12, 2020: William Sherman in the Utah game. The Colorado Buffaloes and the Utah Utes play at Folsom Field in Boulder on December 12, 2020. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Sherman is one of two former Colorado Buffaloes hoping to hear their names called during the NFL Draft this weekend. The first round is Thursday, with rounds 2-3 on Friday, and rounds 4-7 on Saturday. Sherman, an offensive lineman, and Mustafa Johnson, a defensive lineman, are projected as potential late-round picks.

Despite an unusual draft process because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sherman went into this week feeling good about what he has shown to scouts.

“It’s been a really good draft process, especially for the circumstances that have been given,” said Sherman, who played right and left tackle at CU. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to actually get in front of teams this year, go to their facilities and get on the board with their coaches and work out in front of them, but I still felt like I did really good on Zoom, virtually. I think that helped me a lot.”

Sherman was invited to the NFL Combine, but it was canceled and held virtually. Working out for scouts in Boulder last month, Sherman measured 6-foot-3 and 304 pounds. He had 23 reps on the 225-pound bench press, a 26-inch vertical leap, 9-foot broad jump and ran the 40-yard dash in 5.19 seconds.

A three-year starter at tackle, he also showed his versatility. Sherman most likely won’t be a tackle in the NFL, so he’s been working on proving his ability at guard and center.

“I felt like I was able to show my versatility in snapping the ball and taking snaps at guard and tackle,” he said. “Now I really just play the waiting game and have to be patient.”

Sherman said he knew in high school he would likely need to move to guard or center if he wanted to play in the NFL. Under the direction of former CU offensive line coach Klayton Adams, Sherman practiced at both guard spots at times. This offseason he’s been working on snapping the ball. He even spent time with Tampa Bay Buccaneers center Ryan Jensen.

NFL teams typically carry only eight active linemen on game day, which makes versatility important. Sherman feels he can play all five positions on the line and said, “I know any of those five positions, I’m going to be blessed and excited to play any of them.”

BOULDER, Colo. – March 22, 2021: Former Colorado defensive lineman Mustafa Johnson goes through workouts at the Buffs’ annual pro timing day at The Champions Center. (University of Colorado Athletics).

Johnson, a 6-foot, 280-pound defensive lineman, earned All-Pac-12 honors three times at CU but is smaller than the prototypical NFL defensive lineman. Johnson, however, created a lot of havoc for the opposition and believes in his ability.

“What I lack in size I make up for in versatility and how I play,” he said after his pro day workout last month. “I don’t play small. I play big. With my versatility it allows me to play from an interior defensive lineman to an edge rusher depending on what scheme I fit into. I don’t really like to listen to the noise of, ‘You’re too small’ and this-and-that because I don’t believe in that.”

At pro day, Johnson had 27 reps in the 225-pound bench press, a 29-inch vertical leap and 8-foot-7 in the broad jump. He also had a time of 4.51 in the 20-yard shuttle and 7.18 in the three-cone drill.

Johnson and Sherman are hoping to extend CU’s streak to five straight years with at least one player drafted.

Johnson could become just the second CU defensive lineman drafted since 2008, joining Jordan Carrell (2017, seventh round, Dallas). Sherman is looking to become just the second CU offensive lineman taken since 2014, joining former CU teammate Arlington Hambright (2020, seventh round, Chicago).

From the first pick to the last, Sherman said he will be surrounded by family in North Carolina as he watches and waits for the call.

“It’s all types of emotions,” he said. “Excited, nervous, anxious. Just ready to find out where I’m going to be next (season).”

Recent CU players drafted by the NFL:

2020

WR Laviska Shenault, Jacksonville, 2nd round (No. 42 overall)

OLB Davion Taylor, Philadelphia, 3rd round (No. 103)

OT Arlington Hambright, Chicago, 7th round (No. 226)

2019

WR Juwann Winfree, Denver, 6th round (No. 187)

2018

CB Isaiah Oliver, Atlanta, 2nd round (No. 58)

2017

CB Chidobe Awuzie, Dallas, 2nd round (No. 60)

CB Ahkello Witherspoon, San Francisco, 3rd round (No. 66)

S Tedric Thompson, Seattle, 4th round (No. 111)

DT Jordan Carrell, Dallas, 7th round (No. 246)

2014

WR Paul Richardson, Seattle, 2nd round (No. 45)