Upshaw taken 35th overall by Ravens
by Michael Casagrande
Apr 28, 2012 | 10401 views |  0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
NEW YORK — Courtney Upshaw had trouble sleeping Thursday night.

Left at the NFL draft altar a few hours earlier, he tossed and turned in his Manhattan hotel room. His frustration was inescapable.

By Friday evening, the quarterback chasing linebacker couldn’t stop smiling. The Baltimore Ravens chose the former Alabama star with the third pick of the second round after seeing his first-round dreams vanish the night before. Upshaw hit for the emotional cycle in a 24-hour period, ending with pure joy and a touch of relief.

He hit the other end of that spectrum on a damp and breezy Thursday night in New York.

“Just frustration, that’s all it was,” Upshaw said. “Little disappointed, you know, because I had dreams and set a goal at the beginning of the season to be a first-round draft pick. I felt like I let myself down.”

He was the only Crimson Tide player taken Friday while UNA cornerback Janoris Jenkins went 39th overall to St. Louis.

Upshaw was one of six players invited to the first round who wasn’t drafted until the second night. LSU product Reuban Randle was the last of that group taken when the New York Giants selected him with the last pick of the second round.

Sitting in the green room with five Alabama players wasn’t all that bad, Randle said.

“Actually, those are the guys I spent a lot of time with throughout the whole week,” he said. “Those are some fun guys and we didn’t have any disputes about the (BCS national title) game.”

It was all business with millions of dollars on the line in New York.

Upshaw knew his first-round dream dissolved when the Ravens traded their 29th overall pick Thursday night. Alabama legend and Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome was high on Upshaw the whole time, so the last-minute transaction was a blow to the Eufaula native.

So Upshaw went back to his hotel. He changed clothes and went out for a late-night snack with the huge contingent of friends and family.

Then came bed time. Sleep came easy at first, but quickly turned into a struggle.

“I woke up in the middle of the night and I couldn’t go back to sleep,” he said. “I couldn’t stop thinking about it. But I did get a little sleep.”

The intense day included prayers “probably 12 times,” he said. Three picks after the draft resumed, Upshaw’s name was called.

“I’m very motivated to prove it to those who passed me up,” Upshaw said. “I just want to go out and be the great player I know I can be.”

There’s an extra incentive to landing in Baltimore.

Not only will Upshaw play alongside future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, but he’ll line up behind former teammate and Raven nose guard Terrence Cody.

“It’s great. I saw Terrence when I met with Baltimore,” Upshaw said. “He’s looking good. It’s going to be great having some Alabama players that I played with and won a championship with in ’09.”

Chavis Williams, another former-Alabama outside linebacker, also remains with the Ravens after signing a free agent contract last summer.

Upshaw was the fifth Crimson Tide player taken after Trent Richardson, Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick and Dont’a Hightower went in the first round.

The draft resumes at noon Saturday with the final four rounds and several Alabama prospects still in line for selection. Nose guard Josh Chapman, cornerback DeQuan Menzie, receiver Marquis Maze, and center William Vlachos are among those hoping to hear their names called on the draft’s final day.

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