Buckner returns home to Hawaii ahead of 2016 NFL Draft

Buckner returns home to Hawaii ahead of 2016 NFL Draft

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After spending most of the past four months training for the NFL in places like California and Oregon, draft prospect and former Punahou lineman DeForest Buckner spent Friday morning working out in a familiar place.

"This morning I went across the street early, like 5:30 a.m., and got to run on the beach again," said Buckner, a Waianae native who still calls West Oahu home.

Buckner arrived back in Hawaii on Thursday night, seven days before he's likely to learn his NFL fate. The Pac-12's reigning defensive player of the year is expected to be a top-ten pick in the first round on Thursday, an assumption that presents both excitement and anxiety.

"It's kind of nervewracking, because I honestly don't know where I'm gonna end up," said Buckner. "I'm excited, but I'm really nervous. All the teams that I met with showed great interest."

In addition to interviews with 15 teams at the combine in February, Buckner says he has completed on-site visits with four teams, including several -- San Diego, Dallas and Jacksonville -- that own three of the draft's first five selections. The Tennessee Titans, who held the #2 pick in the draft prior to a blockbuster trade involving the Philadelphia Eagles, are the fourth.

"You think it's over with teams [after the combine], and the you have your official visits," said Buckner. "The coaches got to know me better, I got to know the coaches better, they put me on a board and taught me some of their plays, to see if I can relay it back to them."

Like Titans quarterback and former Oregon teammate Marcus Mariota did a year ago, Buckner plans to attend a large gathering for friends in family in Hawaii instead of the draft itself.

"They were gonna give me seven tickets," said Buckner, referring to the NFL's guest limit for prospects attending the draft. "I have a lot more than seven people in my family, I have a lot of friends and family that's been there and really got me to where I am today."

Given the NFL seven-guest limit, Buckner was then asked how many people were expected to attend his private gathering next Thursday.

"About 250 people," he said with a smile. "It's going to be pretty good sized."

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