It’s crazy to think it’s already been a year since I was drafted. A lot has happened in the last 12 months.
The night before the draft, I got a hotel room because I didn’t want to be at home. It can be a stressful time, and I just didn’t want to hear a bunch of questions from people about where I thought I would go. I actually slept pretty well the night before. I wasn’t nervous.
Saturday morning, we had an 8 a.m. tee time so I could get my mind off the draft. I played golf with about 15 guys who are close to me: my dad, uncles, cousins and a few close friends. It was the first time I’d ever golfed, and it wasn’t pretty. There was a lot of yelling “four!” that day, but we had a great time.
When we finished, I went back to the hotel, took a shower and relaxed a little bit. My agent had a room at the same hotel so I went to his room and gathered with just a few people who were close to me. I didn’t turn on the TV until they were on about the 15th pick. I didn’t want to watch the whole round.
I really wasn’t that nervous. Everybody wondered how I was so calm, but I knew at that point that I’d done everything I could to impress teams.
By the time we got to the mid 20’s, I kind of thought I was going to Dallas. I was right about them taking a cornerback, but it was Michael Jenkins and not me. At that point, I thought I was going to Green Bay, who had the 30th pick. I didn’t talk to the Chargers. I didn’t come on a visit to San Diego. They weren’t on my radar.
I started coming to terms with the fact that this Los Angeles boy was going to have to get used to living in Green Bay. I was waiting through those final picks of the first round and about the same time the Chargers went on the clock, my phone rang. It was an 858 area code, so I’m looking at my phone say, “858? That’s San Diego. Why are they calling?” My agent yelled, “Pick it up!” It was A.J. Smith telling me I was a Charger.
After I was drafted, I went home for a party my parents had set up. There were cameras from Tucson there and a few LA stations. I didn’t want to be in front of the cameras waiting with people in my face, but it was perfect to come home with the waiting and speculation over and then celebrate with everyone.
It meant a lot for me to be drafted in the first round. I put in a lot of work during four years of college and accomplished a lot. I’d heard a lot of different opinions; some that I might not go until the third round. That didn’t make sense to me because of the body of work I put together in college. It was great to come off the board in the first round and come to a great place like San Diego.
Most teams fly their first round pick in on Sunday, but since I was in Long Beach, I was able to drive down. It only took about an hour and a half for me and my dad to get to Chargers Park.
They say NFL can stand for “New Found Life,” and that’s how I felt that day. It all started all over again. New place, new teammates, new lifestyle. Football became a job that day, one that I wouldn’t trade for any other in the world.