NFL Coug hopefuls forced to cool their heels

ZACK WILLIAMS WAS DRAFTED BY CAROLINA

OUTGOING WSU SENIORS Zack Williams, Reid Forrest and Zach Enyeart had to fight their way to the top at Washington State, and the Cougars hope that benefits them as they wait to see what will become of their NFL ambitions.

Zack Williams, who was drafted last week, played two seasons of junior college ball and redshirted one year at WSU before starting the past two seasons on the offensive line. Reid Forrest and Zach Enyeart came to WSU as walk-ons before emerging as four-year starters at punter and long snapper, respectively.

Unlike Williams, who was drafted in the sixth round (203rd overall) by Carolina as a guard and center, Forrest and Enyeart are free agents. But NFL teams are not permitted to work out or even talk to any players now that the draft is over and the lockout is in effect again.

Forrest worked out for the Atlanta Falcons last month in Pullman. Enyeart showed off his snapping skills for the Seattle Seahawks last month at the team headquarters in Renton.

For the foreseeable future, NFL veterans and wannabes alike can do nothing but train on their own and wait, wait and wait some more.

"Mentally, it's tough, but what can I do?" Enyeart asked. "There's nothing I can do that will change or speed up the process. It's tough, but at the same time, I know at the end of the day, it'll be worth the wait. Hopefully."

Enyeart said he's confident there will be an NFL season in 2011.

"I don't see how there can't be," he said. "There's too much money at stake."

Forrest sounds a bit more cautious about the upcoming season, citing the fact that the recently released NFL schedule allows for adjustments in case of a delayed start.

"That gives owners a little more leeway to really put the pedal to the medal on keeping this thing locked out even longer," Forrest said.

Williams also stopped short of saying he's certain there will be an NFL season.

"I definitely hope so," he said, "but I don't really know too much."

The three NFL hopefuls left Pullman after winter semester to train. They promise to be ready if and when the lockout ends.

"I work out every day," Williams said. "I mean, it's my job now."

"I've been snapping to anyone that'll catch my snaps," Enyeart said.

"It's something I've learned as a punter; you've kind of got to go with the flow of things," Forrest said. "If things aren't going your way, you've got to forget about it quick.

"As a walk-on at Washington State, I had to do it the hard way there. It kind of looks like I'm going to have to do it the hard way to make it in the NFL. I'm fine with that. I just need an opportunity, whether it's next week or three months from now."

Forrest and Enyeart returned home to Ephrata and Issaquah, respectively, after renting a house together and training in the Phoenix area from Jan. 15 - April 1. The December WSU graduates attended a four-day punters, kickers and snappers camp in suburban Mesa, where Forrest drew "backup plan" interest from Virginia of the minor league United Football League.

Williams trained in Las Vegas, but he's now staying at home in Marina del Rey, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles. Williams said he'll have his criminal justice degree if he passed an on-line final this week.

Forrest said 12 teams contacted him prior to the draft. Two of those teams, the Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars, phoned him Saturday during the draft and expressed interest in him as a free agent. Enyeart said he's "got some interest" from Dallas and Miami, in addition to Seattle.

But with the lockout, it's all talk and no action for now.

Forrest, who has delayed the start of his penny auction website business to focus on the NFL, wants the lockout to end yesterday.

"I was hoping to be somewhere this week as a free agent player, and that hasn't been able to happen," Forrest said. "On the flip side of things, it also gives me more time to just prepare and hone in and critique more things."

As a budding entrepreneur, Forrest seems more understanding than most when asked why wealthy NFL owners seem so determined to make even more money.

"Easy for us to say," Forrest said. "But if we had a million, we'd only want 10."

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