Former Central Michigan safety Jahleel Addae had just completed the second of his daily workouts Monday, April 15 when he received a text message that has the potential to change his life.
He checked his phone to find several text messages, but one stood above the rest.
“Hey, this is John Harbaugh with the Baltimore Ravens,” the text message, received at 3:06 p.m., read. “I just got done hearing about you in draft meetings. I just wanted to let you know we are excited about the possibility to have you help us compete for another Super Bowl. Feel free to text me, and we can keep in touch leading up to the draft.”
The text was one of the many ways NFL teams have shown interest in Addae in the weeks leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft, which begins Thursday night in New York City.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound native of Valrico, Fla., has visited several teams in the past few weeks, including the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“It’s a dream come true. Ever since I was seven-years-old, I’ve dreamed of playing in the NFL,” Addae said. “I succeeded in high school and college, and now I want to do it at the highest level. I watched my brother play in the NFL for a short while; I’m just going to give thanks to the Lord and work to become a professional.”
Addae’s brother Jahmile was a standout at the University of West Virginia from 2001-05.
In 2006, he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After playing briefly with the Indianapolis Colts later that season, he was forced to retire due to a medical condition called cardiomyopathy, which causes an enlarged heart due to strenuous exercise.
“My brother is now a coach,” Addae said. “He’s been a very influential person in my life and throughout this process.”
Addae also said his mother, Jennifer, and father, Freddie, have been huge influences in his life, and the possibility that he can better their lives by playing in the NFL is one of his biggest motivations.
Addae is projected by many to be a late-round to undrafted player in this weekend’s draft, but, even if he doesn’t see his name pop up on ESPN, he says his journey to the NFL is far from over, and that he’ll go wherever he needs to go to earn a roster spot on an NFL team.
“I have no preference on team,” Addae said. “If I don’t get drafted, it’s not the end all, be all. A lot of times, guys who go late become big names and guys who go early aren’t. It’s not about where you start; it’s where you finish. I’ve been an underdog my whole life in different things, but the size of my heart tells me I can play at the next level.”
Addae will be watching the draft at his home in Florida outside of the Tampa area with the people who have motivated him to get where he is today: his family. Regardless of what the weekend brings, he knows he’s a very lucky person.
“This is just all a blessing,” Addae said. “There are a lot of people in this world who I’ve grown up with or who I don’t even know who would love to be in the position I’m in. I’m just trying to take it all in, enjoy it and remain humble and level-headed. I’m just praying and hoping for the best when I get that shot. “
The first round of the 2013 NFL Draft can be seen Thursday night on ESPN at 8 p.m. Coverage continues on Friday with the second and third rounds beginning at 6:30 p.m. Rounds four through seven can be seen at noon on Sunday.