On the clock: Terry Hawthorne (150th pick overall)
UPDATE: Terry Hawthorne was picked by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fifth round (150th pick overall) on Saturday afternoon.
A glance at five Illini who could hear their name called by an NFL team before the weekend ends. Next up ...
Hawthorne’s career at Illinois: Highly-touted recruit out of East St. Louis and 2008 News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year keyed Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl win against UCLA with his interception return for a touchdown. People will remember his diving tackle to save a touchdown against Michigan in 2009 just as much as him getting carted off the field at Camp Randall Stadium in 2012. Finished with 162 tackles and six interceptions.
In his own words: “It’s kind of stressful, but at the same time, there’s nothing that I can do because it’s so up in the air. You just have to be patient and do something to keep distracted. I’m not even going to watch (the draft). I’m going to have my mom watch it, and I’m just going to try to keep my mind clear.”
Our projection: Rams, seventh round, 222nd overall
Reasoning: Hometown team takes its last pick on local product, who will vie for roster spot by trying to excel on special teams. Hawthorne has visited the Rams’ facilities along with working out for Patriots, Jaguars and Broncos while talking to nearly every NFL team. Future is likely at defensive back, but said he is willing to play safety if teams need him to.