Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Praised Be `Big Daddy' Wilkinson Will Be a `Sugar Daddy'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Praised Be `Big Daddy' Wilkinson Will Be a `Sugar Daddy'

Article excerpt

The praise has been so consistent and voluminous, maybe Dan "Big Daddy" Wilkinson should bypass the National Football League. Go straight from the halls of Ohio State to the Hall of Fame.

The pre-draft tributes have come from near and far:

Carolina Panthers general manager Bill Polian: "I don't want to sound like Dick Vitale, but you talk about a guy that size who can move like he can, it's incredible. And he hasn't even reached maturity yet."

Indianapolis Colts director of football operations Bill Tobin: "The Dan Hamptons, Reggie Whites, the Bruce Smiths - all those guys that I've seen - this guy's on the same level with them in college if not better."

Former Dallas Cowboys director of player personnel Gil Brandt: "Wilkinson is just such a phenomenal athlete. He can move so well. The guy was 313 pounds when he worked out and ran under 5-flat. I mean, that's unbelievable."

Actually, Wilkinson broke 4.8 seconds in the 40-yard dash in a private workout. That's faster than many tight ends. Not too far off some running backs and wide receivers. Incredible. Phenomenal. Unbelievable. That's Big Daddy, the heavy - and we do mean heavy - favorite to be the first player chosen Sunday in the draft.

Enough already, says New England Patriots coach Bill Parcells. "With the scouting services and the gurus and the overhype . . . people have him in Canton," Parcells said. "Give me a break."

Be it the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, or the Cincinnati Bengals, who have the No. 1 pick, Wilkinson will stay close to home. He's from Dayton, Ohio.

He got the Big Daddy nickname as a seventh-grader - a 6-foot, 270-pound seventh-grader. He, uh, filled out over the next few years. By the time he joined John Cooper's Ohio State Buckeyes in 1991, he was Huge Daddy.

"Coach Cooper and I made a bet," Wilkinson said. "If I came in at 310, I'd play defense. …

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