ORLANDO, Fla. -- Somewhere in Veronica Sands' home is a piece of mail and a window to the future. Her son, Robert, is West Virginia's all-conference, all-America safety who happens to be a junior entertaining thoughts about the NFL.
No secret there. We know this because Sands tells us. In fact, he's totally open about having already submitted his paperwork to the next level and receiving the feedback for what he could expect should he choose to enter the draft.
Sands forwarded that mail to his mother, though. He doesn't know if she's opened it or not. If he's being honest - and there's no reason to believe he isn't - he doesn't much care. He'll start thinking about that in greater depth once tonight's bowl game is done.
Then again, he's already made up his mind. He's arrived at conclusions to be determined by what's in that envelope. Within is advice from the NFL that provides the general opinion from within the league for where the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Sands will be drafted.
"Third round and beyond, I'll stay," he said. "Second round, I've got to weigh my options on that. There's a lot of stuff to consider."
Absent from that thought? The first round.
"The first round," Sands said, "is the first round."
And, as such, it's irresistible.
It's also elusive for safeties and Sands is most likely to learn he's outside of it and that he'll have a decision to make. You get the feeling, though, he's nearing the end at WVU and if he isn't talking himself into it, he's talking about it.
His junior season was a weird one. He was once again wonderfully effective in the back of the defense, but he just didn't open eyes the way he did a year ago.
And Sands will admit that with everyone else.
"I feel like I could have made more plays, that I didn't do enough, that I could have helped my team more than I did," he said.
That sounds a lot like a guy who is hungry to wipe away one set of memories and replace them with new ones. It might also be a guy who wasn't really satisfied with the way things went and the circumstances that contributed to his mood.
Sands was hurt throughout the year and wasn't getting paid to play with the pain. The shoulder and knee injuries that bothered him from start to finish maybe conspired to drop his tackle total from 65 last year to 45 this year and his interception count from five to one.
Then again, that was Robert Sands in the secondary. The opposition knew that and pretty much stayed away.