AL HAMNIK: Kawann Short bandwagon destined to tip over

2013-03-25T18:45:00Z 2013-03-29T00:14:06Z AL HAMNIK: Kawann Short bandwagon destined to tip overAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
March 25, 2013 6:45 pm  • 

WEST LAFAYETTE | Kawann Short wants so badly to play pro football, he's given up pizza and ribs and chocolate sundaes.

He can now see his feet.

The former Purdue defensive tackle, as that old one-liner goes, used to be a "light" eater — he'd start eating when it got light outside.

That was the case when the jovial 300-pounder played football and basketball at East Chicago Central, and during his earlier years at Purdue.

Now, proper conditioning and good stamina could determine Kawann Short's pro career, who drafts him, in what round, and whether or not he signs for the big money or settles for chump change.

To drop from a playing weight of 320 pounds last season to 303 is a huge step toward making his NFL dream come true.

"No fast foods. Just dining in and working out every day. It's helped a lot," said Short, who also sweated off considerable poundage while training in Florida.

Monday, more than 40 NFL scouts came to snowy West Lafayette for his Pro Day. When you're projected as a first- or high second-round pick, no one with a clipboard and stop watch is going to whine over living out of a suitcase while searching for that can't-miss prospect.

'KK' has been in their cross-hairs for some time.

"This is harder than playing in front of thousands of people. You've just got these few people here focusing on you," he said of the scouts watching and charting his every move.

"This will determine your job, so don't shoot yourself in the foot. I was nervous coming in. I couldn't sleep last night. I just wanted to give the best effort."

I didn't see any scouts shaking their head with regret.

"This is a one-time go," said Short, who missed the NFL combine with a sore hamstring. "I'm just glad I got good film to back it up.

"Today was the most important job interview of my life. Getting out there, showing these guys I can move around, that I'm serious and I dropped weight, was the main focus."

His first pro workout is March 27 with the Carolina Panthers. The Bears also are working on a date.

The 6-foot-3, 300-pounder has always been easy to spot around Purdue. Many within the football program regarded him as an ambassador, and he prepared for that role way in advance.

"That's just how I was raised in my household," Short said. "To be that guy who doesn't get into trouble and be able to face adversity when it comes my way."

With the draft fast approaching, Short's bandwagon will be chased by "new" friends and potential hangers-on, but they should be warned that his inner circle remains tight.

"It started happening my senior year. People were calling, asking for tickets," he said. "It's hard to tell people 'no' but nowadays, I can't answer numbers I don't know. It's always somebody different.

"You just got to be upfront with these guys. If you lose friends, they weren't friends from the get-go."

Like this kid? Wait until he's actually drafted and signed. That bandwagon will tip over.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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