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NFL dream takes Mariani to the Music City


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Knowing it was unlikely he was going to be selected at any time during the first two days of the 2010 NFL Draft, former Havre High and University of Montana superstar Marc Mariani had a long wait before he found out his NFL future. But, as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait. Mariani, a two-time Class A All- State football player at Havre High, and a two-time FCS First Team All American selection as a wide receiver and kick returner at Montana was picked by the Tennessee Titans in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft on Saturday afternoon. Mariani was the 222nd overall pick in the draft, and the call came as time was winding down on this year's NFL extravaganza. "I woke up at 8 in the morning on Saturday because I was paying attention to every pick that day," Mariani said from his home in Missoula on Sunday. "So it was a long, crazy hectic day. "The last 24 hours have just been crazy," he added. "But I am just extremely excited. I couldn't be happier. This is a great opportunity. To have a chance to play in the NFL, that's all I can ask for." Mariani got the big the news from a familiar and reliable source — former Griz teammate Brandon Fisher, whose father, Jeff, is the head coach of the Titans. He said he was talking to the younger Fischer on one line, then got a call from a different number and it was still Brandon, calling to officially tell him the Titans had selected him. And now that Mariani is officially in the NFL, his football journey will once again start all over. But, the hard-working former Grizzly walk-on turned Montana career record holder at wide receiver and outstanding high school football, basketball and tennis player, is more than ready to start all over again. "The big key, the thing I have to keep telling myself is, this is just the beginning for me," Mariani said. "I have to go down there and make a team all over again. It's familiar territory for me because it's like being a walk-on all over again, but at a much different level. "But I'm just excited and extremely thankful for the opportunity I have been given by the Tennessee Titans," he added. "And I'm looking forward to going down there and doing whatever they ask, whatever I have to do, to prove myself and make this team." It's believed, although not confirmed, Mariani is the first Havre resident to be drafted into the NFL. Chinook prep star and longtime Havre businessman Mike Tilleman had a stellar career in the NFL, and Chester native and former Carroll College NAIA All American Casey Fitzsimmons just retired from the NFL after six solid, but injury-plagued, seasons with the Detroit Lions. "To be able to go and represent Havre as a professional athlete, to be that guy, I just feel a tremendous sense of honor, and I'm so proud," Mariani said. "I had great role models growing up in Havre. Great people, so many people who guided me and supported me there. And I just have to say I'm so thankful for all of the support I've gotten from everyone at home in Havre. Since the draft, my phone hasn't stopped ringing, I've gotten so many texts, the support has been amazing and I appreciate it so much. "It's been a long crazy ride from the time I played sports in Havre to college and now this," he added. "And I just feel honored and proud to be able to represent Havre. And I'm going to do my best to make everyone there proud and continue to do my best to be successful." Mariani will begin his quest right away to make the Titans 53-man roster this fall. He leaves for a rookie minicamp on Thursday in Nashville.


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