At 4:50 p.m., Larry English's future was set.
The San Diego Chargers selected the Northern Illinois defensive end with the No. 16 pick in the first round of today's NFL Draft. The pick was a bit of surprise as almost every mock draft had English going later in the first round or in the early portion of the second round.
“I came up to my room in the house for a minute and then I went out in the hallway, saw my mom, then the phone rang and it was the Chargers saying they were going to take me,” English said. “It’s hard to explain, hard to put it fully into words how I feel. I’m extremely excited, I’m very happy and I’m extremely grateful. Today has been an excellent day. It was great to see everyone at NIU earlier today, to see the team and be able to say a few parting words. It kind of made the transition complete.”
San Diego general manager A.J. Smith told The Associated Press that there was a lot to like about English.
"Unless we shore up the defense, we're not going to go where we want to go," Smith said. "We need to bring pressure and this is a guy that can bring the heat – physical, nasty, great presence. We're going to put him in the mix, give him to coach [Ron] Rivera and turn him loose."
English was just happy to learn where he was going.
"I’m happy to be part of the organization,” English said. “It’s a great team and a great organization. I honestly had no idea where or when I was going to go. I’m relieved to know and get some clarity on my future. I think that system and style of defense is going to be great for me. I can’t wait to get out there and start.”
English said he slept well the night before the draft and was excited to get back to the basics of playing football rather than talking about where his future career would start.
"I always felt I was capable of doing monumental things and I'm grateful that things are coming true," English said.
NIU coach Jerry Kill said English would be a good fit with the Chargers, who run a 3-4 defensive scheme, which means that English will play at least some linebacker.
"They'll want him to play up and to rush the passer," Kill said. "It's got to be a fit. You draft a kid 16th and it has to be a fit because they're going to pay that kid a lot of money."
English, the two-time Mid-American Conference MVP is the highest draft pick in NIU history, eclipsing John Spilis, who was the 64th overall pick in the 1969 draft by the Green Bay Packers.
"Larry's handled things very well and he's a very humble person," Kill said. "I think the most important thing is not where he goes and who he goes to but if it's a good fit."
The Chargers are familiar with draft prospects from Northern Illinois. They selected running back Michael Turner, now with the Falcons, in the fifth round in 2004.
Stay tuned to the Daily Chronicle for more coverage of Larry English's selection.