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Not many things make an old scout do a double take, but last week on a practice field at Texas A&M, Colt player personnel director Jack Bushofsky saw something his eyes, at first, did not believe. There was 6'3", 243-pound Aggie linebacker Quentin Coryatt fielding punts during a break in practice. Bushofsky had just spent seven hours watching tapes of A&M's every down this season and had been wowed by what he saw of Coryatt. So he sidled up to Aggie coach R.C. Slocum and asked what was going on. "He just likes to stay involved in everything," said Slocum.
Such are the nuggets of information Bushofsky will need on April 26, when he may well be the most important man participating in the NFL draft. The Colts (1-10) are struggling through another inept season, but they will have two of the top handful of first-round picks—their own as well as the 2-9 Bucs' (from Tampa Bay's 1990 trade for Indy quarterback Chris Chandler)—plus a high second-round selection.
Colt general manager Jim Irsay has the final say on whom Indianapolis selects, but he relies heavily on Bushofsky's input. "If you're a competitor, then you cherish the opportunity to make crucial decisions like these," says Bushofsky, 54, who has played, coached or scouted football his entire adult life. "I'm going to have a big effect on which way we go in this draft, and this is a crucial draft for us."
Although Bushofsky won't comment on the Colts' specific needs, they likely will use their first couple of choices to acquire offensive linemen or defensive front seven players. Bushofsky's goal this year is to familiarize himself with the top 50 players available, and last week he darted through Texas to get a read on a few prospects. His itinerary:
On Tuesday he visited the University of Houston before making the 95-mile drive to College Station, where he spent Wednesday at Texas A&M. A 5:15 a.m. wake-up call on Thursday started him on a 100-mile drive to Waco for a day at Baylor. Late that day he drove the 100 miles to Austin, where he spent Friday at the University of Texas and stayed over on Saturday to watch the Longhorns play TCU.
Draft day is still five months away, but Bushofsky's draft clock is ticking. "I feel good about the week, because I got the Southwest Conference done," he says. "I'm not going to say I won't have sweaty palms, but in this business you make the pick, put your eyes up to heaven and hope you've made the right decision."