The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 22, 2008

Lofton comfortable with decision to declare for NFL draft

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer

Curtis Lofton isn’t looking back on his decision to forego his senior season at Oklahoma to enter Saturday’s National Football League draft.

“It was a difficult decision,’’ said the Kingfisher native before speaking to the Northwest Oklahoma Fellowship of Christian Athletes spring awards banquet at the Cherokee Strip Conference Center. “I don’t have any second thoughts. After I made the decision, I didn’t look back once.’’

Lofton plans to watch the draft with family and friends.

“I’m just going to relax and make it a celebration,’’ he said. “It’s kind of surreal to me at this point. There’s no reason to be nervous. There’s nothing I can do about it now. It’s up to the team where I go. They get to do the picking, not me.’’

Lofton sees himself going anywhere from the 15th to the 40th overall selection.

“I hope it’s somewhere where I can make some money,’’ he said.

Lofton performed before scouts at both the NFL Combine and OU’s pro day.

In the latter, he had a time of 4.67 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 4.60 and 4.54 seconds in the short shuttle. He had a jump of 9 feet, 4 inches in the broad jump and a vertical jump of 32 inches.

“I thought I did really well,’’ he said. “There are always some things you wish you did better, but that’s just life. I was pretty satisfied with what I did.’’

Lofton was measured at 6 feet and 243 pounds. Some feel the former might hold him back a little in the draft. That didn’t stop him from being voted the Big 12 Conference’s defensive player of the year after leading the Sooners to a repeat league championship.

“I definitely felt like I was ready (for the pros),’’ Lofton said.

Lofton led the Sooners with 157 tackles — 94 solo and 63 assisted. He had 101/2 tackles for losses and intercepted three passes, including two touchdowns. He returned a fumble for a score in the regular season win over Missouri.

“If you’re looking at being Big 12 player of year, a consensus All-American and running down my stats, it was an amazing year,’’ he said.’

Lofton said his decision to turn pro upset the OU coaches.

“They definitely wanted me to come back for another year,’’ he said. “Since then, they have been nothing but supportive. They have gone above and beyond to help me out.’’

Seventeen NFL teams have expressed an interest in Lofton.

“There’s one that has expressed more interest than others, but I don’t want to say which one,’’ he said.’

Lofton grew up a fan of the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has no preference.

“Whoever takes me, takes me,’’ he said.

Lofton doesn’t pay attention to various mock drafts. He will be glad when Saturday is over.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to do this,’’ he said. “It’s been a long process. I’m ready to get it over with. It’s a little frustrating. It’s been two months and I don’t know where I’m going to end up at.’’

Whoever he ends up with, Lofton said blitzing will be his biggest adjustment going into the NFL.

“Guys are going to be bigger and stronger,’’ he said.

He has prepared for the draft by working out at a health club in Norman.

Lofton has an association with the FCA from his days at Kingfisher. He helped lead the Yellowjackets to their first-ever state championship in his junior season (2003).

“It’s exciting to come back and give back a little to what I’ve been getting from them,’’ he said. “The FCA members were always positive role models you could look up to ... they were guys that believed in the same things I did and had the same values. They were the guys I look up to. I’m actually that guy now.’’