FOXBORO -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; After catching only three passes for 50 yards in 11 games asa blocking tight end during his redshirt freshman season in 2007, the Coloradocoaching staff approached Nate Solder and said, Youd be an alright tight end,but youd be a great tackle.
The advice paid off with a phone call from Bill Belichickand Robert Kraft on Thursday night, officially making him the New EnglandPatriots first pick of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Solder was the 17th overall pick on Thursday. The offensivetackle got the call while at his familys bed and breakfast in Colorado.
I was hoping and praying that theyd pick me, because, youknow, its such a great organization, said Solder in a conference call.
I didnt know what to expect with this whole process, hesaid. How can you? How can you know? Its all been shocking and surprising.Im just blessed and honored to be a part of it.
Solder said he had no idea what to expect on draft night.And going to New England wasnt anywhere close to a guarantee.
The Patriots had canceled Solders scheduled visit toFoxboro a day before he was supposed to hop on a plane. Instead, Patriotsoffensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia flew out to meet with him, on Monday.
Hes an unbelievable coach, one of the best in the NFL,said Solder. And that was completely obvious when I met with him. And I lookforward to the opportunity to play for him.
Solder said hes only played left tackle in his career as anoffensive lineman, but said he believes in healthy competition, and wants toearn his spot on the roster.
I have a lot to work on, said Solder. And the great thingabout that is, Im a coachable player. And coach Scarnecchia, and coachBelichick, the whole staff, is great to play for.
Danny Picard is onTwitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.