- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 20, 2002

Former Maryland center Melvin Fowler had a simple plan for what should be one of the greatest days of his life.
"I plan to eat a big breakfast, turn on the tube and wait on the phone call," said Fowler, who is expected to be selected today in the NFL Draft.
Fowler has been on the run since leading the Terrapins to the ACC title and Orange Bowl last season. He has done the after-season circuit of all-star games, NFL Combine and individual workouts to improve his NFL stock. The All-ACC lineman will switch to a watch-and-wait position today as family and friends gather in his Long Island home. The 6-foot-2, 300-pound lineman has been projected in many mock drafts including that of ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper as a third-round selection.
He apparently helped himself immensely with his performances at the Senior Bowl and the combine, thus completing his transformation from a marginal prospect going into last season to a legitimate candidate who has jumped up draft boards.
"From what everybody tells me, he's one of the top two centers in the country," said Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen, a San Diego Chargers assistant coach from 1992 to 1996. "He's has all the ingredients to be successful. He's smart. He's a good worker, a good person. He has good feet. He's strong. The only negative is, you would like him to be a little bit taller. But if you are going to be short, that's the place to play."
Fowler generally is rated behind Ohio State's LeCharles Bentley at his position and has been listed among the top 15 linemen overall. Fowler recently interviewed with Philadelphia, Tennessee, Houston and Cleveland.
He feels the best impression he made was in the Senior Bowl, where he got to play alongside top players under the supervision of the Arizona Cardinals' coaching staff headed by Dave McGiness.
"I feel I have changed people's opinion just by playing well at the all-star games," said Fowler, who felt somewhat overlooked while playing for a non-traditional power. "I proved I'm one of the country's best centers and I can play with anyone. Sometimes when you play in one league like the ACC, you don't really know how good players are in the Big Ten and Pac-10. It made me realize I'm pretty good."
There have been concerns about Fowler's upper-body strength because he had surgery on his left shoulder twice early in his college career. But he believes his weightlifting performance at the combine quieted many doubters. The articulate lineman showed his agility by starting all 45 games of his college career after being switched from nose guard to center before his redshirt freshman season in 1998.
Today he will find out if he has done enough to warrant an early-round selection. Fowler already has fulfilled several of his dreams by helping Maryland win its first ACC title since 1985 and graduating in December with a degree in communications. Now he's just awaiting the phone call.
"I just want to be able to say I'm an NFL player," said Fowler, who was a lightly recruited high school player. "I just want to say I'm part of that."

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