By Cory Woodroof
Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver wants to one day own a farm and raise cattle, and he has an affinity for country music.
So, he’s right at home in Nashville as he waits to find out where his new home is going to be.
The NFL prospect is one of about 20 or so who are spending time in the city, which Mayor David Briley dubbed “Football City” Wednesday morning, ahead of Thursday night’s festivities.
All who attended Nissan Stadium’s media session will at least hear their names called by early Friday night, so they’re not in town for long (unless they wind up being drafted by the Titans). But reviews were positive from those who are visiting.
“What’s crazy about Nashville and me coming out this year is that it’s the country music capitol of the world, basically,” Oliver said. “I like horses and listen to country music, too. My dad, he’s as country as they come, so this draft, honestly, fits me. There’s was no way I couldn’t come out here.”
For Alabama offensive lineman Jonah Williams, home is Atlanta, and Nashville has only been a business destination so far.
“It’s sweet,” he said of being in the city. “[Alabama] played Vanderbilt here, but [that was] the only time I’ve been here. So now to be back … I didn’t know much about Broadway. It’s like Bourbon Street in Nashville. And, honestly, I didn’t know what traffic was going to be, either. I didn’t have all these details.”
Cody Ford, an offensive lineman for Oklahoma, joins Williams in making this a first stop.
“It’s awesome being here,” he said. “It’s my first time actually in Tennessee. What a better way to actually bring me here? It’s really exciting. I love the atmosphere. I love the area so far. Downtown’s amazing.”
Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard says the city meets its reputation.
“It’s been pretty fun so far,” Dillard said. “There are a lot of cool things nearby that I’m going to explore more of [Wednesday night]. Tuesday night, I took a little walk, and it’s pretty cool. Everybody says there’s nothing but good things about Nashville.”
It’s a familiar locale for Florida offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, who made trips here every summer in his youth to Nashville’s House of God Church for conventions.
“It’s been a blessing for me to have this opportunity,” he said. “I feel very fortunate and blessed to have this. It’s a dream come true for me to be here.”
Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker was complimentary of the hospitality he’s been shown in his arrival to town.
“It’s a blessing to be here right now,” he said. “It’s an honor to be here.”
Though he’s very much not a draft prospect, Stanford head coach David Shaw accompanied NFL Network to provide his analysis of the draft and was captured by the spirit in the air.
“From the Predators just losing in the NHL playoffs, but that buzz being around the city, the NFL Draft coming in, and this city really opening its arms,” he said, “I looked at the set that they built [Tuesday]. I saw it for the first time. It’s unbelievable. There’s been a buzz of excitement around. I walked around downtown [Tuesday]. The city’s been alive. It’s been awesome.”