Brooks, Rainey waiting to be picked in Draft

Senior running back Bobby Rainey charges through the defensive line Nov. 16, 2011, in a game against Troy at Smith Stadium. His performance in that game made him the all-time leading rusher for WKU and gave him the record for the most rushing yards in one season. Rainey is one of two former WKU players hoping to be drafted into the NFL this weekend.

Brad Stephens

No WKU alumni are currently playing in the NFL, but former Toppers Bobby Rainey and Derrius Brooks may both be out to change that.

Both players have been training for this weekend’s NFL Draft since graduating in December after WKU’s 7-5 season.

Rainey, the school’s all-time leading rusher, is projected by most mock draft outlets to either be picked between the fifth and seventh rounds.

He’s been working out in Orlando, Fla., since graduating from WKU, training under speed coach Tom Shaw with other Draft prospects and current NFL players.

The Griffin, Ga., native said his best advice from the current pros came from Carolina Panthers wide receiver Armanti Edwards, a former Appalachian State quarterback.

“He told me what the whole Draft thing was like, and then when you actually get there, about the mini camps,” Rainey said. “He basically told me for the mini camp to just stay conditioned and remember plays as much as you can.”

Rainey earned a reputation as an every down back the last two years for WKU, rushing 340 times in 2010 and 369 times in 2011.

But it’ll be a few years before Rainey has such a role in the NFL, he said.

“A few (scouts) have said basically I’ll be coming in as a third down back,” he said. “Then, if I do good there, and the coaches feel comfortable, then I may have the chance to be an every down back.”

Rainey will also likely work on special teams coverage and return units, he said.

He has garnered interest from several teams, notably the Washington Redskins, New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers.

The 49ers would be a good fit, Rainey said, because they run a similar offense under Head Coach Jim Harbaugh that WKU ran under head coach and former Harbaugh assistant Willie Taggart.

Meanwhile, Brooks, a former wide receiver, said he has drawn interest from NFL teams as a potential nickelback and punt returner.

He’s been projected by many Draft outlets as either a seventh-round pick or as an undrafted free agent.

Brooks was also a track standout at WKU and was clocked by NFL scouts as running a 4.25 second 40-yard dash during one of WKU’s Pro Days.

The Fortson, Ga., native intercepted four passes and recorded 48 tackles in 2011.

His move from wide receiver to cornerback in 2010 paved the way for him to become a pro prospect, he said.

“Coach explained to me that you’ve got receivers in the NFL bigger than me running the same times,” Brooks said. “He said my best opportunity may be as a cornerback, and I took that to heart.”

The Draft can be seen on both ESPN and NFL Network.

Coverage of the second and third rounds begins at 7 p.m. on Friday, and coverage of rounds 4-7 takes place at noon on Saturday.

Both Brooks and Rainey said they’ll be back in Georgia over the weekend, watching with their families.

Brooks said it would be “something real special” for he and Rainey to represent WKU in the NFL.

“We went through the whole losing process during our careers, then came out our senior year and said we weren’t going out losers,” Brooks said. “We came out and finished 7-5. Now for both of us to go into the NFL, it’d be something great.”