The NFL Draft is always about notable recruits, they’re just usually notable for their high school success and rating, not for a lack thereof.
Yet there they were. On Thursday a pair of unheralded high school recruits reached football Pandora, hearing their names called during the first round of the draft. The No. 5 overall pick was Corey Davis, the first wide receiver taken in the draft despite playing his college football at Western Michigan.
Yet Davis’ relative notoriety would have been comforting for the player selected at No. 13, Temple defensive end/linebacker Haason Reddick, who was raised just a long stone’s throw from the site of Thursday’s draft. Reddick wasn’t recruited or rated by anyone in high school, and even set up a NCSA profile to try and get more attention for himself. When that didn’t pan out he lobbied his way into a walk-on spot with his hometown program, Temple, but even that only lasted for a year, before Reddick was told there was no more room for him.
He didn’t give up, worked all the way up to a starting role and then broke out with strong junior and senior campaigns under coach Matt Rhule to earn a spot at the NFL Combine and, eventually, a top-15 overall selection by the Arizona Cardinals.
So what’s the takeaway from Davis and Reddick’s perseverance? Just ask Tomball defensive tackles coach James Woodard:
OK, so he’s not strictly right about Davis having no stars, but you get the point. Neither Davis or Reddick were all-everything recruits like Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster or USC’s Adoreé Jackson.
In the end, they didn’t have to be. They were better just for who they are.