Kevin Dyson had no contact with the Tennessee Oilers since early March, when they attended one of his workouts for NFL scouts at the University of Utah. Dyson flew all over the country for recent interviews and workouts with numerous other NFL teams.
Yet when Atlanta, one of Dyson's more-recent suitors, took linebacker Keith Brooking with its No. 12 pick, Dyson says he knew Nashville would be his new home, and he told his mother that while they awaited Tennessee's No. 16 pick.Dyson was right. "I was waiting on that phone call, and it came," he said.
The Oilers did take the swift, versatile and savvy Ute at No. 16 overall, making him the first wide receiver taken - ahead of touted-but-troubled Randy Moss of Marshall - and the seventh offensive player taken in the 1998 draft.
Dyson was drafted higher than any Ute in history. Norm Thompson, who played for Utah in 1969-70, was taken at No. 17, and defensive lineman Luther Elliss went 20th.
"I went higher than Luther Elliss. That was kinda one of my goals," Dyson said. It was also a "goal" to be selected ahead of Moss.
"I was just so happy and relieved and excited, all at the same time," Dyson told the Deseret News by phone from his mother's Layton home, where he had allowed five people to watch the draft with him. Many more were invited for a later celebration, but Dyson didn't want them to come until after he'd been selected, worried he wouldn't go as high as everyone expected and nervous that a big crowd might be disappointed.
When it happened, "It was like, `take a deep breath, it's over,' " Dyson said. "I'm just so excited, I can't wait to get down there, get ready, get the workouts, get started on that. Start running, get into shape for this draft. I mean, get ready for this camp," said Dyson.
"My family went crazy more than I did," said Dyson.
Dyson was projected to go anywhere from No. 8 to Dallas, which is the team he followed while growing up in Clearfield, to No. 28. He had hoped to go to Dallas, Baltimore, Atlanta or Tennessee because they had wide-receiver needs. "It's exactly the situation I wanted to go to," he says, figuring he has a chance to start and be the No. 2 option for strong-armed quarterback Steve McNair. He's happy to go to a team that plays on natural grass.
The Oilers made a brief Saturday-morning call to Dyson to say they were picking him. "I was on the phone with them when my name was called (on TV)," said Dyson. "They told me, `We got you, we're happy, and now we've got to move on to the next round.' "
The Oilers were to call him back Saturday night to let him know more about what they want him to do. He was expecting to fly to Nashville today for a press conference. Once his name was announced, the Oilers put him on a teleconference with the Tennessee media.
He was pretty certain Tennessee would choose him after Atlanta passed because Oiler GM Floyd Reese had talked with him for a half hour in Utah in March. Reese told Dyson he could go "anywhere from seven to his pick. I wasn't too concerned after Atlanta."
He expected the rush on defensive players after quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf went 1-2. The top defensive players were much better than the middle tier while the offensive side of the draft was deeper.
The kid from Clearfield High made a national impression making the winning catch in the Freedom Bowl. As a senior, Dyson caught 60 passes for 824 yards from two young U. quarterbacks in a disappointing Ute season. He also returned punts (223 yards) and kicks (268). But he impressed NFL scouts and moved up in the off-season with his 4.3 speed in the 40, size (6-foot-1, 200 pounds), good hands, improved routes and breaking ability, plus his ability to understand and make suggested changes. He has already graduated from Utah and is working on a second major.
He's also image-conscious. He said his celebration party wouldn't go too late Saturday because he wanted to make a good impression in Nashville today. He even bought two double-breasted suits in the past week to wear to his press conferences. Until then, he didn't own a suit.
Dyson doesn't plan on changing his pleasant personality, even though a few years back he'd have been happy to make somebody's taxi squad "and make $60,000 a year. Just a few years ago I was saying that. Now I'm going to be a millionaire," Dyson says.