CHICAGO – Talk about an unlikely Top 10 pick.
Jack Conklin, the eight overall selection by the Titans in Thursday night's NFL Draft, was a no-star recruit coming out of high school. His only offer was to Division II's Wayne State.
When the big offensive lineman showed up on the Michigan State campus as a walk-on, he wasn't the most impressive looking kid.
"He was more pudgy than he was strong,'' said Mark Staten, Conklin's offensive line coach with the Spartans. "But he knew football, and he was a kid with a thirst and a hunger to get better."
Case in point: During a final offensive unit meeting at Michigan State during Conklin's redshirt freshman year, the team's offensive coordinator challenged the group.
"One of you will come back and be something different after the summer,'' Staten recalled on Thursday night in Chicago. "(He told them), 'One of you will come back and we'll say, 'Where did this guy come from? Who's it going to be?'
"Jack said, 'That's going to be me.' He came back and was a freshman All-American. He earned his spot."
A 6-foot-5, 308-pounder, Conklin started 35 games at left tackle in three seasons at Michigan State, and three games at right tackle.
Titans general manager Jon Robinson said he's capable of playing on either side of the offensive line.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey said Russ Grimm, the team's offensive line coach, will love him.
"If you've seen video on him, he's a very physical player,'' Mularkey said of Conklin. "He likes contact. That's the program he comes from and you know, he knows what is expected from him here. We had a really good visit when he came in town and we're glad he was there. That was who we were wanting."
Staten watched Conklin like a proud coach here after he was picked by the Titans.
He knows his pupil is a happy man. But he also knows he won't make folks very happy who have to practice against him.
"When I asked him before the draft: Where do you want to go, Jack?,'' said Staten, who's headed into his 10th season at the school. "He said, 'I want to go to Tennessee, coach. They play our kind of ball.'"
"Jack is as good a dude as I've ever known. But he's a mauler. He is going to go down there and fight and scratch and look to dominate you, and he won't say a word. He'll break the huddle and go back and do it all over again and again and again."
The Titans select Michigan State OT Jack Conklin in the first round (8th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft. (AP Photos)