With the 2018 Draft here and taking place over the next few days, it's hard not to think a little bit about my own Draft Day back in 2014.
Did I expect to go as high as I did? Well— I had a good couple of seasons at Texas A&M and knew that it was a possibility. But you try to tell yourself not to expect too much—that way you don’t get disappointed if it doesn’t happen.
Whenever I got picked, I knew that I could do something I’ve always dreamt of doing. My family’s life was going to change; I’d be able to take care of my loved ones—and I’d get to do it while chasing one of my childhood dreams. It doesn’t get any better than that.
So, the day finally arrived. I was at the Draft in New York, my agent picked up the phone first, then handed it to me with Mr. Licht on the other end. Mr. Licht told me they were about to select me in the draft and asked me how I felt about becoming a Buccaneer. I was honest. It felt great.
Lovie Smith got on the phone and told me I’m going to love it in Tampa, I’m going to love my teammates, and that we were going to win a lot of games.
I was holding my daughter in my arms and heard my name being called and I can remember thinking I get to change my family's life. I was overcome with joy and emotion.
The moment was just surreal. I got up to walk on stage and exchanged hugs with everyone; they all told me how proud they were of me. And I’m walking across that stage trying to fight the tears, but it was a losing battle.
Even though you know they're coming, all the emotions hit you so fast. You can't help but shed a few tears.
I can remember talking to Deion Sanders after getting picked, and he's asking me how I feel. I couldn’t help but think about how much I was looking forward to getting to work with my new teammates and learn from one of the best in the game, Vincent Jackson.
While that day was the culmination of all the work put in over the years and needed to be appreciated for what it was, I knew the real work was just beginning. The dream had become a reality. But it would be up to me to make sure the dream stays alive.