Big play means big (draft) day?

1-25-04, 11:05 a.m.

BY GEOFF HOBSON

MOBILE, Ala. _ USC wide receiver Keary Colbert doesn't know what Saturday's 35-yard touchdown catch in the Senior Bowl is going to do for his draft status. But he knows the future of last year's overall No. 1 pick.

"His future is all ahead of him. He's going to be a great one," said Colbert of Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer. "He's going to be great because he wants to be great."

Colbert spent 18 months as Palmer's roommate in Los Angeles in a house that also included another first-round draft pick, Steelers rookie safety Troy Polamalu. Colbert isn't going to be getting first-round rent, but he'll probably go in the first day. Whatever happens, he received plenty of advice from Palmer last season.

As he spoke Saturday, the Senior Bowl program with Palmer on the cover from last year's game was still laying around the post-game locker room.

"We talked every couple of weeks. He was up

on our season and we were up on them, and what they were doing," Colbert said. "Everytime I talked to him, he'd tell me just to make sure I enjoy the last couple of weeks of college. Carson's a good dude. He's a funny guy. A prankster."

Colbert still laughs about the time Palmer bought what can best be described as fake cat dung. Then he waited around the house to see who was going to clean it up. Colbert thinks his transition to the NFL will be much cleaner after not taking a snap behind Jon Kitna as a rookie.

"It was probably a blessing in disguise that he didn't play," Colbert said. "There's not a lot of pressure on him and they have a great quarterback in Kitna, anyway. He did well for himself and for their team this year. I think he'll just have to wait it out, and once he gets the opportunity I think he'll make the most of it."

Colbert's checklist on Palmer's strengths: desire to be great, works hard, strong arm, communicates well, smart.

"He knows a lot about football and he works at it," Colbert said.

Colbert caught a bomb from Michigan quarterback John Navarre and finished with two catches for 42 yards. He's projected by some draft experts as a possession receiver in the NFL.

"I don't really know what it means," Colbert said of his day. "There's nothing you can do about that. I just wanted to have some fun with these guys and compete."

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