Football fans came from far and near for a chance to meet Ballwin native and probable first-round NFL draft pick Blaine Gabbert on Saturday, just a few miles from the home Gabbert grew up in.
The Parkway West High School grad and former Mizzou star was at in Chesterfield to sign autographs, raise money for Parkway West Football Boosters and meet some fans.
The first person in line, Chris Kortum of Ballwin, said he arrived two hours early for the 3 p.m. event with a football and photo to be signed.
Greg Reynolds of Granite City, MO also arrived about two hours beforehand.
“I'm a huge Mizzou fan and I wanted to make sure that I was able to meet him and get his autograph,” Reynolds said.
As Gabbert repeatedly penned his John Hancock for the crowd of about 100 people, he also appeared happy to chat. Some fans even asked him to sign his name but then inscribe 'first round draft pic 2011.'
“I hope you don't jinx me,” Gabbert said.
Speculation over where will take him continues to grow as the draft's April 28 start date approaches. Gabbert earned 18 wins in his two seasons as the starting quarterback for Mizzou, and waived eligibility to play his senior year in favor of an early move for the NFL. That announcement came shortly before union reps and league officials entered a legal battle that threatens the 2011 season.
Still, despite all the talk over where a likely first-round selection would send him, Gabbert said he still feels a humble connection with his hometown.
“All the attention is fun, really fun," Gabbert said while posing for pictures. "But I feel like the same guy from Ballwin that I've always been."