MADISON — Midway through the third round probably wasn’t exactly where Badger tailback Brian Calhoun thought he would go when he opted to forego his senior year in favor of a professional football career.
After a daylong wait with more than 50 family members and friends, the 5-foot-10, 203-pound tailback was drafted by Detroit, which picked him 74th overall, the 10th player chosen in the third round. He was taken at approximately 7:45 p.m. Central, almost nine hours into the draft.
“Obviously, it was all day, all day waiting,” Calhoun said Saturday night in a phone conversation from his hometown of Oak Creek, Wis. “I was up early, couldn’t sleep much last night. It was a long wait and I was patient, I was kind of waiting patiently. But finally . . . Detroit pulled the trigger and I’m happy I made it there.”
Calhoun said he expected to be drafted earlier, in the second round.
“I think it was very apparent that when (defensive end) Mario Williams was taken first, that this was going to be a different draft than everybody expected,” Calhoun said. “I necessarily just didn’t expect to go to Detroit but I’m happy I’m going.”
Calhoun, who said he has not discussed contract negotiations yet, was pleased about his new team. He said he had communicated some with Detroit prior to getting drafted but was nonetheless surprised about the pick.
“I heard it’s a good situation, now that they have a new coach and a new offensive coordinator in Mike Martz, I’ll be definitely used in the same way that (St. Louis running back) Marshall Faulk would,” Calhoun said. “I think I’ll pair up well with Kevin Jones.
Less than two weeks after Wisconsin’s Capital One Bowl win, in which Calhoun rushed for 213 yards and a touchdown, the star tailback put the kibosh on his spectacular but brief Badger career and decided to turn pro.
At the NFL Combine in March, Calhoun ran a lackluster 4.60-second and 4.63 in the 40-yard dash; he later ran a 4.38 at UW’s pro timing day a week later.
“I think it (his 40 time) had no effect and it doesn’t matter now because I’m going to Detroit, so I’m happy with that,” Calhoun said.
Calhoun played two years at Colorado, where he amassed 1,108 rushing yards on 262 carries before coming to Wisconsin. After sitting out the required transfer year, he starred on the field from day one, setting single-season school records in rushing touchdowns (22), total touchdowns (24), rushing attempts (348) and receptions and receiving yards for a running back (53 catches for 571 yards) before the season was complete. The NFL had always been a goal, Calhoun said, but heading into his junior year, he did not think he would achieve it when he did.
“I never thought it would be this quickly and this soon and I’m very thankful that I’ve had this opportunity and I’m just going to make the best of it from this level,” he said.