We all know, making it to the NFL after playing DIII football is tough. But if it’s your dream, you have to pursue it with all you’ve got. Not everyone get’s drafted, or picked-up as an Undrafted Free Agent (UFA) right after they get done playing college football. Plenty of NFL players had to take long roads to the NFL. If you really want it, you’ve got to be relentless. Unstoppable. Willing to go the extra mile.
You’ve got to be like Zach Bleiler, one of the best players in DIII football.
Numbers don’t lie. Look at what Zach accomplished in 2010 alone:
• D3football.com Second-Team All Region
• Tied single-game school record of four sacks in game vs. Moravian
• Team Captain
• Broke an 18-year-old Meet and Arena Record in Weight Throw (Track and Field)
Even though Zach’s one of the best defensive end’s and longsnapper’s in DIII football, Zach knows the odds are against him. He knows his only shot at the NFL this year is as a UFA. CDS Draft ranks Zach as the number 37 defensive end in the nation (http://cdsdraft.com/rankings/position-ranks/?position=DE), and about 46 UFA defensive ends get invited to NFL camps every year, so from a numbers standpoint, he should have a legitimate shot, but you just never know
What we do know, though, is that Zach’s a high-achieving, high-character, and hard-working standout, that’s willing to pay the price to get his shot. Zach and his father drove 8 hours from Pennsylvania to take part in the National ELITE Combine last Saturday. Zach’s giving it all he’s got, with no regrets, and that’s the kind of attitude you have to have to make it in life, not just pro football.
Zach’s ultimate goal is to play in the NFL, but for him to even get the chance to run on that NFL field and perform in front of NFL scouts at combine that you have to be invited to is a heck of an accomplishment within itself. In fact, just making it to play NCAA football, regardless of whether it’s D1A or DIII football, is a heck of an accomplishment. According to the NCAA website, only one-in-16 high school senior football players go on to play NCAA football.
DIII football players can make it in the NFL, and that’s a fact. Fred Jackson (Buffalo Bills) and Jason Trusnik (Cleveland Browns), are just two of the eight former DIII football players that were on NFL rosters in the 2010 season. And there’s quite a few DIII football players in the CFL, IFL, and Arena leagues. In 2008, there were 11 former DIII football players in the AFL, alone.The NFL Draft is next week, and teams can’t pick-up UFA’s because of the lockout, which is a bit frustrating for guys like Zach, but he’s doing doing all he can to play pro ball. On April 30th, he’ll be at the Virginia Destroyers (UFL) tryout at the end of this month.
Players with the attitude, humility, and work ethic that Zach has is a breath of fresh air. My job is to do all I can to help him reach his dream. Hopefully, your job will be to witness Zach play on Sundays.
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson