EAST CHICAGO | At approximately 6:30 p.m. Friday, Kawann Short's life changed forever.
"I've got a real job now," said the former Purdue defensive tackle, taken 44th overall by Carolina in the NFL draft. "The phone is still ringin' ... people calling to congratulate me."
The 6-foot-3, 299-pound Short worked out for Carolina and New England following his Pro Day at Purdue on March 25.
"When I went to Carolina, I loved the city (Charlotte). It's a people city," Short said. "They're all friendly, and that's the type of person I am.
"A PR person called me and said they like me and have got a lot of expectations for me. Then I got to speak with Coach (Ron) Rivera and the entire staff."
Short leaves this morning for an introductory news conference at the team's headquarters involving the Panthers' five picks.
"When I got the call, my heart started racing and tears were falling. I'm just ready to go out there and get started."
The Cam Newton-led Panthers (7-9) started slow in 2012, but won their final four games to bring a sense of promise and probably save Rivera's job.
"They just doubled down on defensive tackles. Star Lotulelei fell to them with the 14th pick in the first round. Now, a position of strength and an identity on defense for them as a three-tackle rotation," Mike Mayock of the NFL Network said after Short was picked.
Both Short and his agent Joe Segal were hoping for the first round, but weren't going to complain.
"Kawann's a great, great talent who's excited to go to Carolina and help them win," Segal said.
"They were top five in sacks in the NFL and feel they can get to No. 1," Short said. "I can do a lot of different things as a pass rusher or against the run."
Short was quick to thank godmother Diana Burns and his birth mom, Yvonne Green, for keeping him on the straight and narrow while growing up in East Chicago.
"They set me right," he said. "They were more nervous than I was during the draft."
Short started 50 consecutive games for the Boilermakers and had 19.5 sacks during his college career. He'll play between improving defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy, who both finished last season with double digits in sacks.
The Panthers were 14th in the league against the run last season.
Panthers' general manager Dave Gettleman said he believes championships are won with big bodies up front and called Short "the best pass rushing defensive tackle in the draft."