The chance at someday becoming an NFL draft pick seemed like the longest of long shots when Jack Doyle graduated from Cathedral High School in 2008.
He was a good player, an honorable mention selection for the all-state and all-city teams at tight end as a senior after catching 21 passes for 400 yards and four touchdowns. But at that time he was just searching for a college program that would give him an opportunity.
“I was just looking for somebody to let me come play football,” Doyle said . “I did the best I could and it’s led me to this point. Now I’m excited just like I was coming out of high school.”
The 6-5, 257-pound Doyle became a Mackey Award semifinalist as a senior at Western Kentucky, the lone Football Bowl Subdivision program to offer him a scholarship.
Since January, Doyle has been back in his hometown, working out at St. Vincent Sports Performance in preparation for the draft. Though he wasn’t one of the roughly 300 players invited to the NFL Combine, he worked out in front of representatives from 20 teams Thursday, including two scouts from the Colts. He ran routes and did all of the combine drills except the bench press, which he will do at Western Kentucky’s Pro Day next month.
“I can’t worry too much about where I’m drafted or if I get drafted,” Doyle said. “That’s out of my control, so I can’t get too high or too low.”
Doyle, 22, is taking two online courses to complete his degree at Western Kentucky. Meanwhile, preparing for the draft has become a full-time job. He has found a mentor in former Colts tight end Ken Dilger, a 10-year NFL veteran.
“Working with Ken has been a great experience,” Doyle said. “He’s given little hints and tips about going into your first mini-camp and things like that. You can’t ask for a better position coach than him.”
Doyle played in 10 games as a freshman at Western Kentucky, catching 37 passes for 365 yards. After an injury shortened his sophomore season, Doyle led the team in receptions (52, 53) and receiving yards (614, 566) as a junior and senior.
In retrospect, Doyle said he found the perfect opportunity at Western Kentucky. Coach Willie Taggart, who has since taken the South Florida job, preferred a power running attack that used the tight ends in a controlled passing attack.
DuJuan Daniels, now a scout with the New England Patriots, coached Doyle as a sophomore at Cathedral.
“The one thing that really stood out to me was that he attacked everything with a goal in mind,” Daniels said. “He sort of had a chip on his shoulder because he wanted to be a starter on the varsity. … The competitiveness he showed in high school as well as his ability to bounce back from adversity after his neck injury (as a sophomore) at Western Kentucky will definitely help him once he has to battle NFL-caliber competition. He is an extremely physically and mentally tough kid.”
If Doyle isn’t drafted in April, it isn’t the end of the line. He’ll have a chance to be picked up as an undrafted free agent and play his way on to a roster.
“I don’t feel any pressure,” he said. “At the end of the day, if they tell you can’t play, you can’t play. All I want is a shot.”