Gridiron Judgment Day

While this weekend’s NFL Draft brings anticipation for football fans everywhere, the happenings of the next few days could mean the difference between achieving or narrowly missing a lifelong dream for three former Vikings: Brennan Carvalho, Jordan Senn and Tremayne Kirkland.

While this weekend’s NFL Draft brings anticipation for football fans everywhere, the happenings of the next few days could mean the difference between achieving or narrowly missing a lifelong dream for three former Vikings: Brennan Carvalho, Jordan Senn and Tremayne Kirkland.

Playing their final season under head coach Jerry Glanville in 2007, each was honored as an All-Conference performer, and Carvalho and Kirkland were named All-American performers for the Football Championship Subdivision.

Since concluding their collegiate careers, the players have enrolled in rigorous training routines in an effort to improve his value in the eyes of NFL teams. Carvalho, the top candidate among the former Vikings to be drafted, trained in Arizona at a specialized facility with other potential draft picks.

Carvalho enters the weekend virtually unknown to many fans after finishing his career as arguably the best offensive lineman in school history. Named a first-team All-American three times, the Kapa’a, Hawaii native switched from guard to center during his senior season, a move that may have further enhanced his draft status.

Gauging his potential, experts have labeled Carvalho one of the 10 best centers in the draft, and though his agent has fielded multiple inquiries with several teams about him, his draft status will remain unclear until the later rounds Sunday.

“Whoever is going to pay me money to play football-that is who I want to play for,” said Carvalho, who flew to the Hawaiian islands to enjoy the weekend with his family.

Kirkland has engaged in arduous two-a-day workouts while trying to add weight to his lean 165-pound frame.

“I have also been running a lot of routes, and trying to get used to the NFL ball,” Kirkland said from his home in Sacramento, Calif.

Senn, an Academic All-American who also competed in track and field at Portland State, spent time training in Colorado with a former coach before returning to Portland to train at the same facility he has been using since he was a freshman in high school.

Although undersized at linebacker by NFL standards, Senn hopes his ability to play multiple defensive positions and play on special teams will increase his prospects.

“If I am going to contribute to a team, it is going to be on special teams,” Senn said. “I think I can help a team get better in several ways.”

After transferring from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, after his junior season, Kirkland seemed like the perfect fit for Portland State offensive coordinator Darrell “Mouse” Davis’ run-and-shoot offense.

Kirkland’s 10 touchdowns and season total of over 1,000 yards ranked as the second-best season ever by a Portland State wide receiver. Despite his fruitful season, he will likely go undrafted during the seven rounds, but may have an opportunity to sign a contract as an undrafted free agent.

“I will obviously play anywhere I can,” Kirkland said. “It has been my dream my whole life.”

Kirkland plans to watch the draft at home with his young daughter.

“I want to be around her so that I can either celebrate with her, or have her help cheer me up,” he said.

Former Vikings linebacker Adam Hayward needed no cheering up when he was brought to tears of joy after his name was called in the sixth round of the NFL Draft last year, a fate all three players would happily accept.

Hayward, who was the only Big Sky player drafted last season, contributed on defense and special teams for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, becoming just the third Viking drafted since Portland State joined the Big Sky in 1996.

While Carvalho, Senn and Kirkland remain optimistic about their draft chances, each recognize that even if they go undrafted, the opportunity to make an NFL roster remains possible.

“Whether you get drafted late, or go undrafted, you still have to make the team,” Senn said.

Former Portland State wide receiver Shaun Bodiford went undrafted and has contributed the last two seasons as a kick returner for the Green Bay Packers, while tight end Tony Curtis caught three touchdown passes for the Dallas Cowboys last season after not hearing his name called from the podium on draft weekend.

Despite the possible fulfillment of many of their lifelong dreams, each of the players seems well grounded and informed about the difficult nature of making it to the NFL.

“I don’t have expectations,” Carvalho said. “If someone calls, that would be an honor, but if I don’t get called, I don’t get called.”

Viking NFL Draft hopefuls

Brennan Carvalho 6-1, 310 pounds Center

Ranked 10 of 88 centers, according to

Interested teams: San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos

Strengths: powerful frame, experience snapping in shotgun and top lineman at multiple positions

Weaknesses: short arms and played primarily against lesser competition

Tremayne Kirkland 5-11, 165 poundsWide receiver

Ranked 103 of 336 wide receivers, according to

Interested teams: New York Giants and Buffalo Bills

Strengths: quickness, speed and kick-return ability

Weaknesses: small frame, short and strength

Jordan Senn5-11, 225 poundsLinebacker

Ranked 39 of 135 strong safeties, according to *

Strengths: ability to play multiple positions, has a nose for the ball, and athleticism

Weaknesses: height and does not have build of prototypical NFL linebacker *Senn played two seasons of free safety at Portland State but finished his college career as a linebacker.

NFL Draft

When: Saturday, noon (rounds one and two) and Sunday, 7 a.m. (rounds three to seven)

Where: Radio City Music Hall in New York City, N.Y.

On the air: ESPN and NFL Network will have full coverage