HUMNOKE The Mallett family party will have to wait another night to reach its peak.
Ryan Mallett spent Thursday evening watching the NFL Draft with more than 70 family members, friends and invited guests at the Steel Wings duck lodge, but the former Arkansas quarterback was not one of the 32 players selected in the first round of the draft.
Mallett’s interest in the ESPN broadcast reached a high point in the middle part of the round with the back-to-back picks of the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins at Nos. 15 and 16. But neither of those teams, who had interest in taking a quarterback, chose Mallett.
Mallett’s draft watching will resume at 5 p.m. today with rounds two and three on the docket.
“Whatever team is going to be smart enough to pick me, we’re going to make something happen,” Mallett said just before Green Bay concluded the first round by taking Mississippi State’s Derek Sherrod, the 10th SEC player taken. “I just want to play ball,that’s what I say.
“I’m not disappointed. I mean I’m disappointed, but I have a chance to play in the NFL, so I’m not too disappointed.”
Mallett began the evening by greeting the entire group, who had assembled on the back porch for a prayer before a catfish dinner. The dinner was catered by King Cat of Carlisle, which was made famous by its work with Bill and Hillary Clinton during his presidency.
An early run on quarterbacks - with Cam Newton going No. 1 overall to the Carolina Panthers, Jake Locker being a surprise pick at No. 8 by the Tennessee Titans, Blaine Gabbert going at No. 10 to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Christian Ponder being taken at No. 12 by the Minnesota Vikings - seemed to bode well for Mallett.
But there were no more quarterbacks taken after Ponder, leaving Mallett and TCU’s Andy Dalton as choice selections today.
“We’re excited about whatever team is going to draft Ryan,” said J.R. Carroll, his agent in Fayetteville. “Ryan is going to work as hard as he can, just like he did at Arkansas, to make that team proud and make the state proud.
“He just appreciates all the support he’s received from Arkansas tonight. He looks forward to getting on the football field and showing everybody exactly what he did in the SEC.”
There were gasps of surprise at Steel Wings after the Locker pick, just as there was a big reaction at the draft.There also was hope Mallett could go at No. 25 to Seattle before the Seahawks took former Alabama offensive tackle James Carpenter.
Mallett sat in a lounge chair by his girlfriend, Rachel Carlson, for much of the first round.But he got up and visited with family members and moved around for other sections of the 3 1/2 hour broadcast.
The Mallett family traveled in droves to the duck hunting lodge located five miles north of Humnoke in Logan County, just as they do to Razorbacks football games, reunions and other family gatherings.
Steel Wings, owned by Tom Schueck and run by farm manager Jay Hauk, proved a perfect venue.
“We have a lot of family functions here,” said Hauk, who is married to Jim Mallett’s niece. “The Mallett family is a huge family, as you can see. Plus, Ryan loves to hunt and fish, so this is the ideal place for us.”
The Malletts surrounded themselves with loved ones, including Carlson, a former Razorbacks soccer player, and her parents, Nan and Jeff Carlson of Tulsa.
Also on hand, in addition to dozens of family members, were fellow Texarkana product Brandon Barnett, one of Mallett’s former teammates, Mallett’s English teacher from Texas High, Susan Waldrep, and family friends Charlie and Gerita Moreton of Lincoln, who helped the Malletts adapt to the country life years ago.
It has been a bumpy few months for the Malletts. At times, the negative publicity exasperated Jim and Debbie Mallett, as their son was subject to rumors from anonymous sources about character concerns and off-the-field issues.
“Every time you turned on the TV it was something, people saying he didn’t have leadership qualities and that he wasn’t a team captain,” Debbie Mallett said. “I mean, they didn’t even know what they were talking about.
“It got to where I just turned the TV off.”
The Malletts will do it all again today at the duck lodge, this time with higher hopes of knowing Mallett’s NFL destination.
Sports, Pages 21 on 04/29/2011
Print Headline: Mallett family gathers, must wait another day