Michael Floyd eager to prove checkered past behind himContinue reading.
Illinois DE Michael Buchanan eager to start NFL career
Michael Buchanan packed up belongings in Champaign Wednesday, and he returned home to Chicago’s South Side, where he’ll soon learn where his NFL home.
The Fighting Illini defensive end is expected to be drafted, although his stock took a bit of a hit when his production dropped from his 2011 season.
“I’m not nervous,” he told the Sun-Times. “I feel like whatever happens, it’s what was meant to happen, it’s not about, ‘If I don’t go this round or that round.’
“All that matters is that I get there.”
Ourlad’s, a scouting service, projected Buchanan could go in the 4th or 5th round but that he has a chance to be “one of the biggest steals” of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Buchanan, though, isn’t dwelling on the past.
Even before the 2012 season, Buchanan endured some challenges, most notably suffering a broken jaw during an altercation. During the preseason and even into the season, he struggled maintaining his weight.
“I shouldn’t have put myself in that situation in the first place,” he said. “I did have some issues, as far as my weight, but we had new coaches and everyone bought into the system, but we didn’t start figuring things out until late in the season.”
His sack total dipped from 7 in 2011 to 4 in 2012, and he had nearly half as many tackles for loss (7 in 2012, 13 in 2011).
Buchanan didn’t fulfill his goal of winning a conference championship, but he’s proud that the Fighting Illini appeared in back-to-back bowl games his sophomore and junior seasons.
After his senior season, he spent some time with a trainer in Phoenix, learning more about nutrition and taking better care of himself, and he’s also been a fixture with former teammates at the University of Illinois.
He said he’s never been healthier or fresher, currently weighing 252 pounds.
“That’s good for me. The teams I’ve received the most interest from, they see me as a 3-4 outside linebacker,” he said. “But I think I can get up to whatever a team asks me to do.”
Buchanan said he’s talked to every NFL team, many of them multiple times, and he’s excited to see what unfolds in the coming days. But on Wednesday night, he spent a few hours at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital in Chicago with young patients, playing games with them, coloring with them and signing autographs.
“I want to be involved in my own city,” Buchanan said, reflecting on the violence around Chicago. “It’s just really sad. I’m hoping that over the next couple years, these young guys realize there’s different ways to handle a problem.”
Buchanan has had friends and former teammates killed, and he worries about his two younger brothers, who are 13 and 7. He’s hoping that they follow his lead and immerse themselves in school and activities.
“I always played ball – football, basketball, baseball – and I wasn’t running around in the streets,” he said.