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Published: Sunday, 4/18/2010

UT's Church enjoying draft experience

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
UT defensive back Barry Church was picked All-MAC first team four times. UT defensive back Barry Church was picked All-MAC first team four times.
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It's been a hectic four months for Barry Church, but the whirlwind of activity is slowly coming to a close.

The former University of Toledo defensive back and four-time All-Mid-American Conference first-team honoree has visited with representatives from all 32 NFL teams. He also did an individual workout and film study with the secondary coach from the Carolina Panthers at UT's pro day last month.

"It's been an up-and-down process, but I'm glad to have gone through it," Church said. "I'm excited, anxious, and nervous for the draft all at the same time. It's just a real exciting time in my life right now."

Most experts believe Church will be selected later in the draft, somewhere from the third round on. He's also been ranked anywhere from 11th to 18th in a deep and talented pool of safeties in this year's draft.

Free safeties Eric Berry of Tennessee and Taylor Mays of Southern California headline the group, and both are expected to be taken in the first round.

Berry appears to be a possible pick for the Cleveland Browns with the seventh overall pick.

At 6-1 and 222 pounds, Church is about the same size as Berry and is a bit smaller than Mays, but the UT product was hampered by slower times in the 40-yard dash than the two top prospects.

Church ran a 4.62 in the 40, while Berry was timed at 4.40 and Mays at 4.31.

Church said officials from the Baltimore Ravens, Atlanta Falcons, and the Panthers have been in contact with him the most.

The Ravens have a clear need at safety, while the Falcons and Panthers each possess a stockpile of draft picks in the fifth and sixth rounds.

"I've heard anything from the third to the sixth round, so anywhere near that I'll be happy with," Church said. "It's a big guessing game, and I just can't wait for Thursday to come around."

While some NFL hopefuls stay away from the television and don't monitor the draft coverage, Church said he'll be doing the exact opposite with family and friends in his hometown of Pittsburgh.

"I'm going to be glued to every second of the draft, seeing what's going on and who got picked up where," Church said. "It's going to be very exciting. I can't wait."

Church added that he's been in contact with former UT teammate Stephen Williams, a receiver who is projected by most draft gurus as a fifth or sixth round pick.

"I just talked to him the other day, and he's just as excited as I am," Church said. "He's real anxious, too, and I'm hoping for the best for him."

Like every other NFL prospect, Church will finally be able to exhale once the draft concludes Saturday night and he knows the next destination in his playing career.

"When it's all said and done, I'll be pretty relieved that it's over," Church said.

Contact Zach Silka at:

zsilka@theblade.com.

or 419-724-6084.



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