The NFL Draft is upon us. Personally, Iím not a big fan of watching every minute of it on TV. However, one year I made an exception and watched quite a bit of it...
2005 -- The year I was drafted.
I canít believe itís been seven years since I was drafted! Man, time flies! I canít believe it happened that long ago! Despite quite a few years having passed, I still remember my draft experience like it happened only a minute ago. If youíre interested in hearing about it, hereís how it went down...
Just like most players will tell you... My draft experience was an interesting one. Obviously, I, along with a bunch of my family and friends, was very excited to find out which team was going to select me. So, to keep the excitement on high, we decided to invite everyone over to my Mom and Dad's house on Saturday -- back then, the draft happened on Saturday and Sunday -- for a little pre-draft party. (Well, I guess it really wasnít a ďparty,Ē but we definitely had a nice-sized gathering of people over for a BBQ.)
That Saturday, if I remember correctly, I think I only watched the first round on TV. Never in a million years did I think Iíd be selected on the first day. After all... Considering how unexpected it was in the first place that I was even being CONSIDERED as a potential NFL player was unbelievable in and of itself. IF I was going to be drafted by a team, I thought it would happen on the second day, maybe in the fourth or fifth round. So on Saturday, I was in chill-mode, because an opening day selection just didnít seem to be in the cards for me. And, sure enough, it wasnít.
Now don't you go off and think I was being pessimistic about not being selected on the first day! I was just being a realist! Many of you donít know this, but becoming an NFL football player was never a dream of mine. I actually wanted to play baseball in the big leagues, as it was my favorite sport. Up until my senior year of high school, the thought of playing football had never crossed my mind.
Seriously! Football wasnít my game! Baseball was! In fact, the only time I played football before college was during my senior year of high school. And I guess I played pretty well during that one year, because colleges started calling, wanting me to come play ball for them.
The University of Arkansas was where I really wanted to go to college, but they wanted me to walk on to the team. Fortunately, the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) -- the only Division 1 school to approach me -- offered a scholarship. So, between those two schools, ULM won out. My parents didnít raise a fool! I was going to go where the money was at!
My freshman year at ULM, I was a starter as a red shirt. I was also a starter my sophomore and junior year. As someone who was new to playing football, I surprisingly played well during those seasons. Thatís when I began to think... ďOH! Maybe Iím actually pretty good at this! I wonder if I could cut it in the NFL?!Ē
How I performed during my senior season would determine whether or not anyone thought of me as a pro-baller. Personally, I was confident in my ability to play the game at a higher level. But, literally, ďsmallĒ condition was going to potentially stand in my way of earning the NFLís attention...
Haha! That's what you call a cliffhanger, people! Come back tomorrow for Pt. 2 ;-)
Up until my senior year of high school, I always wanted to be a major league baseball player. Never did I imagine the NFL would come calling my name. But it did, thanks to Godís good graces, which allowed me to jump head-first into this new sport, and actually be pretty damn good at it -- Good enough that I was able to play college football at The University of Louisiana at Monroe. But, if I was to get noticed by NFL scouts and potentially make it to ďthe show,Ē there was an obstacle I was going to have to overcome...
ULM is a small school, man. No matter how talented you are on the field, there was always a thought racing around in the back of my head asking... ďWill I get noticed by the NFL here in Monroe?Ē
Donít get me wrong... Iím not rippiní on ULM for being small. I loved the school! It was there that I got a great education and, obviously, enjoyed a lot of success playing football. The unfortunate fact of the matter was that ULM didnít have the same level of notoriety that the bigger schools got. Thatís why I was nervous about my chances of the NFL taking notice of me. But, yet once again, HE was watching out for me, because agents began calling during my senior year.
Now that agents were calling, I was like... ďThis NFL-thing could be for real!Ē It was crazy! There I was, a kid with big league dreams, being thought of as a potential professional football player! Luck had struck and ULMís size wasnít going to get in my way of this new and unexpected path my life was seemingly taking me. This is why, when I talk with young guys who play ball at smaller schools, I always tell them that it doesnít matter where youíre playing, because, if youíre good, theyíll find you.
Sunday, the second day of the 2005 NFL Draft, had arrived. The day prior, my family and friends had a BBQ and watched some of the TV broadcast of the first dayís selections. I was pretty sure I wasnít going to get drafted that first day, so our get-together was a bit more toned-down in comparison to how I hoped Sunday would be.
Before any draft-watching began that Sunday, my family and I went to church so we could start the day off on a positive note. Once Sunday service was over, we all took our good energy back to the house, hoping and praying for good news to come...