INDIANAPOLIS (92.3 The Fan) – Many kids grow up dreaming of playing in the pros.
Not many realize the dream but 7 northeast Ohio kids are at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
Mentor’s Mitchell Trubisky, Genville’s Marshon Lattimore, Hudson’s Ben Gedeon, Willoughby South’s Kareem Hunt, Firestone’s Jerome Lane, Brush’s Pharaoh Brown and Massillon’s Gareon Conley all made their case to 32 NFL teams this week that they are worthy of having their names turned in on cards at the 2017 NFL Draft.
“I think it’s just a credit to the kind of football that we play in Northeast Ohio,” Gedeon said. “Obviously great high school football, youth programs.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s a credit to the football we play.”
While having the Cleveland Browns select them in the draft might be a dream come true, football is now their chosen profession and there are only 31 other franchises that are hiring.
You play where you are told too, at least if you enter the league through the draft.
“I’m going to excited wherever I go,” Trubisky said. “I have a lot of pride of where I’m from that being my hometown, but no matter what team selects me I’m going to be super excited. I’m going to work as hard possible wherever I go. It’s been a dream come true.
“It’s been a dream of mine to play in the NFL since I was a little kid, so whoever picks me, it’s going to be a dream come true.”
Trubisky started 13 games at North Carolina where he ranked fifth in the country with a 68.0 completion percentage and, threw 30 touchdowns against just 6 interceptions. The former Mr. Ohio Football selection is expected to be a first-round pick and could even be the first quarterback selected in April.
He threw extremely well on Saturday during his workout that saw him match Clemson’s Deshaun Watson throw for throw.
Lattimore battled hamstring injuries at Ohio State but bounced back to become a first-team All-Big Ten selection after recording 4 interceptions and broke up 14 of the 35 passes thrown his way in his first full year on the field for the Buckeyes. Durability is the only question he needs to answer.
“Time is flying,” Lattimore said when asked to reflect on being at Glenville just 4 years ago. “This is my dream to get here and I’m here so I have to prove myself.”
Gedeon was a force at Michigan in his final season where he earned second-team All-Big Ten honors after leading the Wolverines with 106 tackles including 15.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks. He benched 225 pounds 27 times to lead all linebackers at the combine.
“It’s obviously a big transition,” Gedeon said of turning pro. “You bring the same mindset and work ethic that you did in college, but you’ve got to realize this is guy’s livelihood now and you’ve got to go out there and try to take someone’s job. It’s just a little bit different mindset for sure.”
Hunt ran for 4,945 yards and and 44 touchdowns in 4 seasons while averaging 6.3 yards per carry for Toledo. Although his 40 time of 4.62 was personally disappointing, it didn’t derail his prospects of making the NFL, which he began to think about in high school.
“I didn’t figure that until after my junior year at high school. I just set a goal for myself to take it this far. I really wanted to make something happen. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs throughout my career.”
Massillon’s Conley is projected to be a second-round pick after 2 strong seasons in the Buckeyes’ secondary where he started every game. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten pick in 2015 with 2 interceptions and 5 pass breakups and in 2016 was a second-team all-conference as a junior after registering 4 interceptions and 8 PBUs.
“I definitely want to be a first-round pick,” Conley said. “Nobody doesn’t want to be a first-round pick so I’m going to work as hard as I can to be a first-round pick.”
Lane, a Firestone High School product, is the first player from Akron to participate in the combine since 2007. He started all 12 games last season for the Zips where he caught 62 passes for 1,018 yards and 6 touchdowns. The Browns plan to attend his pro day next week but Lane is not expected to be drafted but could be a candidate to be signed as an undrafted rookie free agent.
“What I’m trying to prove to teams [is] that I belong in this league, that I have a chip on my shoulder and I’m coming to take a position,” Lane said. “I’m versatile. You can put me anywhere, offense, defense, special teams. It doesn’t matter, so wherever.”
Brown is the only player representing Oregon this week. The former Brush High School star has a few red flags following a couple of fights with teammates and a domestic violence incident that authorities determined that he did not instigate. He bounced back this past season from multiple leg surgeries following a devastating injury in 2014 to earn first-team All-Pac-12 honors by catching 33 passes for 426 yards and 5 TDs in 9 games.