For the seven former WSU football players who are waiting for the NFL Draft to determine their futures, the wait is finally over. But if football doesn't pan out, some, such as Jeremiah Allison, have more solid backup plans than others

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For the seven former Washington State Cougars who are hoping to get their shot at the NFL, the worst is over.

“It’s like picking a college all over again,” linebacker Kache Palacio said in a phone interview this week from Southern California. “You’re excited about the process, you’re glad you’re getting interest from other people, but you’re more anxious, ‘Where am I going? This needs to hurry up!’ That’s how I feel about it.”

Regardless of what happens in the NFL Draft this week, the long wait is finally behind them

This time next week, offensive lineman Joe Dahl, linebackers Jeremiah Allison, Palacio and Ivan McLennan, defensive linemen Destiny Vaeao and Darryl Paulo, and receiver Dom Williams will all know what their immediate futures hold.

Of the Cougars’ seven draft-eligible hopefuls, Dahl is the only one who’s almost guaranteed to hear his name called sometime between Thursday and Saturday, when the draft ends.

Dahl is projected as anywhere from a second to a fifth round selection. His stock rose steadily after solid performances in the Reese’s Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine in February, and he says he’s fielded interest from a lot of teams.

Six NFL teams came to Pullman to put Dahl through a private workout, while one NFL team flew Dahl (6-4, 304 pounds) to their facility for an interview.

The offensive lineman declined to name the individual teams because he said they instructed him to keep it quiet. However, NFL Media’s Rand Getlin reported recently that Dahl has worked out for, or visited with, the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, Tampa Bay Bucaneers and Tennessee Titans.

Dahl, a Spokane native, intends to watch the draft with his family at his parents’ house in Spokane. He said that despite the stress of having to perform under scrutiny, the whole pre-draft process has actually been pretty enjoyable.

“It’s been stressful and a whirlwind, but I’m trying to soak it in and enjoy the moment,” Dahl said.

For the rest of his former teammates, this will be quite the nerve-wracking weekend as the draft unfolds over three days.

Vaeao worked out for the Falcons in Pullman and visited with the Chiefs in Kansas City. Williams worked out in Pullman for the Falcons, Patriots and Texans, Palacio worked out with the Los Angeles Rams, while McLennan, Allison and Paulo have all fielded interest from a number of teams.

They all know that the draft and the free agency frenzy right afterward represents their best shot at furthering their football careers.

However, of this group of former Cougs, Allison might be the one best equipped to move on with life if pro football doesn’t pan out.

Allison will walk in WSU’s commencement ceremonies on May 7 and graduate with a dual degree in political science and criminal justice.

He’s hoping to take the LSAT and go to law school in the next year. But until then, he’s accepted a job as a junior staffer with Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane.

Allison met Baumgartner when the senator – who is friends with WSU coach Mike Leach – stopped by to watch one of the Cougars’ bowl practices in 2013.

Baumgartner had heard of Allison through his friendship with Leach and former WSU President Elson Floyd and his wife, who were mentors to Allison during his time at WSU.

“Mike (Leach) always talked favorably of Jeremiah’s interest in public policy and leadership skills, and I had a staff position coming up, and knew (Allison) wants to go to law school,” Baumgartner said. “So I said, ‘Go chase the NFL stuff, but if that doesn’t work out, work for me in Olympia and spend the year getting ready for law school.

“I think he would do well as a deputy prosecutor, and then a prosecutor and later on as an elected official.”

Plan A, however, is for Allison to find a home with an NFL team. Allison has signed with Chris Ellison, better known as Keyshawn Johnson’s agent. The linebacker thinks he might go in the late rounds or sign with a team as a free agent.

If that doesn’t happen, he’ll start his new job with Baumgartner in August. Even Baumgartner is rooting for Allison to make it in the NFL though.

“He’s the most talented kid I’ve ever met whom I sincerely hope never works for me,” Baumgartner said, laughing.