The NFL Players who were Late to Find their True Calling

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In the United States, football (or Gridiron Football, if you’re reading this from another area of the globe) is played by almost all boys of high school age, albeit with many additional safety measures in place – girls, on the other hand, play soccer. By the time boys reach college, the vast majority see soccer as a women’s sport. 

College Football in the United States

The collegiate leagues are the birthplace of all future NFL stars in the United States – so much so that the biggest college games are often broadcast on the same major networks as the games featured in the main league, and often attract major attention from large betting firms too – the blossoming legal online industry of sportsbook in Indiana regularly attract some serious action from punters. 

Although some European countries have obviously picked up on the potential to find the next generation of National soccer stars via operating a respected league for younger players, the United States is generations ahead in this regard. When it comes to finding the best new players at an early age, nurturing their talents, and giving them the greatest chance to succeed at the highest level, it could be decades before similar leagues are established in European Soccer-loving states.

The Transition from High School to College Football

College football coaches are quick to assess the boys joining their school and will often disagree with the high school coaches who have pushed certain young men towards specific positions. This is not surprising – college football coaches have vastly more experience than those at the high school level and will often see potential in players that had previously gone unnoticed. 

Those students with an avid interest in taking football seriously will listen carefully to their college coach – after all, if their college coach believes they will have greater appeal when the NFL college draft arrives playing a different position, only the most arrogant of students would disregard the advice of an experienced knowledgeable college football coach. 

“The Human Joystick”

Texas’ A&M University has a long and hard-earnt reputation as a powerhouse of college football in the United States, Considering Dante Hall’s nickname “The Human Joystick”, it’s quite surprising just how short his professional career turned out to be. An angle injury in 2008 in a game against the Cardinals was no doubt partially to blame, but one cannot help but wonder if there is still some story left untold here.

When Dante first joined Texas A&M he was placed in the running back position, but was drafted in 2000 as a kick/punt returner. His career progressed quickly from here – he played a year at Kansas with the Chiefs before heading over to the NFL Europe and the Scottish Claymores, where is is claimed he returned as a record-setter in his new position. With just seven seasons on his rap-sheet, we can only wonder the heights this player could have achieved in another set of circumstances.

A Heart-Crushing Downgrade?

The position of quarterback is surely the most sought after on any NFL team – college or professional. For Terrelle Pyror, a star quarterback during his high school years, it must have been a dream come true when he won both the 2008 and 2009 Big Ten championships as Ohio State’s prized quarterback. With a further accolade to his name – the Big Ten Freshman Quarterback of the year in 2008 – Pryor would have been quite within his rights to believe that he would remain the star quarterback at Ohio for years to come.

When Oakland snatched Pryor away from Ohio – drafting him as their new quarterback, as you would expect – the last thing he would have been expecting was to spend the better part of the next half decade on the bench. In 2015, Pryor announced he would be switching to playing as a wide receiver – he wanted to get back on the field, and this decision opened several doors at the Cleveland Browns, the Washington Redskins, the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills.

We haven’t seen Pryor play since he was released from his contract by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019, and recent events in his personal suggest could suggest that Pryor’s days as a professional NFL player are now behind him.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

But it’s Not Always Bad News …

When Ryan Tannehill was in his last year at Texas A&M, circumstances cut him a lucky break which saw him go from wide receiver / backup quarterback to their starting quarterback just in time for draft day, when the Miami Dolphins snapped him up and proved his real skill was as a starting quarterback. He has now played for the Tennessee Titans since 2019.

Julian Edelman’s switch in the opposite direction; from quarterback to wide receiver/kick returner also worked out well for him, and the story of Central Michigan University’s J.J. Watt is now legendary within the NFL. J.J. was drafted by the Houston Texans in 2011 and has since gone on to be named NFL Defensive Player of the year three times in addition to being named to the Pro Bowl on five separate occasions.

Sometimes, a change in position on the field is all it takes to be successful in the cut-throat world of the NFL.

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