MANHATTAN — As much as Tysyn Hartman and David Garrett are looking forward to the NFL Draft next week, they are disappointed it winds up on the same day as Kansas State’s spring football game.
While both former K-State defensive backs will be home anxiously watching the event on TV, the Wildcats will be scrimmaging in front of thousands at Snyder Family Stadium.
They wish there was a way they could be there to support their former teammates and keep an eye on their futures at the same time. But they are professionals now, and understand their priorities. With a life-altering job on the line, that won’t be possible.
If either player gets drafted, they will extend the program’s 18-year streak of producing at least one NFL Draft pick. It’s a statistic the Wildcats are proud of and promote prominently on the back page of their media guide.
Hartman and Garrett are both projected as possible late-round selections, and have had discussions with several NFL teams since signing with agents after playing in the Cotton Bowl. They are two of K-State’s most likely products to get drafted.
“I want to be drafted. That’s something I’m hoping for,” Hartman said. “But it’s to the point where I don’t want to get my hopes up for something I can’t control. They have seen my body of work. I have done everything I can. For me to sit here and get my hopes up for something that is out of my hands … I won’t do it.”
Hartman is in an interesting position. The former Kapaun Mount Carmel standout was a four-year starter for the Wildcats at safety, and played in two bowl games. He was considered a defensive leader throughout his career, and had 69 tackles and three interceptions as a senior.
He had his down moments, too, but ended his college career on a high note by playing well against Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl. Since then, he has practiced in front of pro scouts before the East-West Shrine Game, trained for seven weeks in Atlanta and worked out in front of more scouts at K-State’s Pro Day.
Hartman felt good about those experiences, and says he and his agent have been in contact with eight NFL teams. But none have requested him to participate in a private workout.
“They say the portfolio and the package they have on me is big enough. They don’t need to bring me in,” Hartman said. “Based on my resume as a four-year starter and my record off the field — they know I’m not a guy who is going to have issues — there’s not much I can do from this point.
“I might get a call for an interview, but any team that drafts me or picks me up has a pretty good idea of what they are going to get. They know the type of player and person I am. I’m a late-round guy. I could be picked up in the fourth or fifth round or go undrafted. Anything can happen on draft day.”
Garrett is in a similar position, but he started off at a junior college, so NFL teams are giving him an extended look. He said he has spoken to five NFL teams and has worked out for the Cleveland Browns.
Considering he is currently living in Cleveland, that would be a perfect destination. But Garrett is willing to play anywhere next season.
“All I need is one team to like me,” Garrett said. “I’ve been hearing I’m a draft-able guy. I could go anywhere from fourth to seventh round, but you have to live in reality. I’m preparing for the worst and wishing for the best.”
Garrett served many purposes as a cornerback for K-State. At times he dropped back into coverage and defended receivers one-on-one, at others he played more of a safety role and even spent some time at linebacker. As a senior he made 88 tackles, broke up two passes and grabbed two interceptions.
At 5-foot-8, there have always been questions about his size, but Garrett has tried his best to minimize those concerns by working out round the clock and overhauling his diet. During the peak of his offseason training, he said he was eating six meals a day and shot up to 188 pounds from 174.
“My play on the field speaks for itself. I’m pretty sure everyone who watched K-state play the last two years can see that I’m a playmaker,” Garrett said.
A handful of other former K-State players are hoping to hear their names called during the draft. Offensive linemen Clyde Aufner and Zach Hanson could become enticing late-round possibilities along with defensive tackle Ray Kibble, linebacker Emmanuel Lamur and running back Bryce Brown.
Though Brown left K-State midseason, he posted outstanding numbers at his Pro Day and has received calls from more than 20 NFL teams. His agent, Eric Armstead, said he has had private meetings with position coaches from the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs.
“I think he is going to be drafted,” Armstead said. “It is probably going to be late, just because of all the circumstances, but he has been working out well.”
At the least, all are expected to be invited to a team’s rookie camp as free agents.
But Hartman and Garrett are hoping for more. They want to know where they’re headed before the NFL Draft ends, and to keep K-State’s draft-day streak alive.
“It’s what I’ve been working for,” Hartman said. “The NFL is a lot more serious than college, and any little thing can make the difference between having a job in the fall or not. That’s why I’m doing everything I can to make sure I’m ready for rookie camp wherever I end up.”