Hoping for more NFL draft celebrations in the suburbs

Whether they’re the first pick like Caleb Williams, or the last pick like Brock Purdy, the NFL draft is special for every player selected.

It’s no different here in the suburbs, where we’ve had more than our share of athletes head to the NFL. This weekend, we’re sure to see some local celebrations.

Minnesota’s Tyler Nubin, a St. Charles North High School graduate, should be the first local player selected. But the joy may continue through the next couple of days with Crystal Lake South’s Trevor Keegan (Michigan), Naperville North’s Bo Richter (Air Force), St. Charles East’s Clayton Isbell (Coastal Carolina), Jacobs’ Loren Strickland (Ball State) and others possibly getting the call.

Weekends like this bring back many memories.

I’ll never forget when Cole Kmet was drafted by the Bears in 2020. A second-round pick out of Notre Dame, the St. Viator graduate was at home in Arlington Heights and able to celebrate with his family.

The next day, community members organized a parade to drive by Kmet’s house (remember, this was at the beginning of the pandemic) and hand flowers to the family.

For all the work Kmet put in to reach that point, he knew it’d take double the effort to make it in the NFL. But for that one moment, when the call came from the Bears’ front office, it was all put aside in a release of pure joy.

I could write for days about the many local football players who’ve had the thrill of getting the draft call. Football is so strong in the Chicago suburbs, it’s become an annual occurrence.

Wheaton Warrenville South’s Corey Davis was another great draft moment. Underrated by major college programs, Davis put up big numbers at Western Michigan and wound up being selected fifth overall by Tennessee in 2017.

Western Michigan's Corey Davis, left, poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Tennessee Titans during the first round of the 2017 NFL draft. Davis graduated from Wheaton Warrenville South High School. Associated Press

Seeing Davis pose for pictures with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, a wide smile on his face while holding a Titans jersey, was awesome. Was this really the same guy I covered at WW South just a few years before?

How about Rolling Meadows High School’s Jimmy Garoppolo, an unknown at Eastern Illinois before he threw for more than 5,000 yards his senior year? The Patriots sure noticed, taking him in the second round of the 2014 draft.

Garoppolo, his parents and other members of his family were all in attendance at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall to enjoy the experience together.

As cool as the athletes try to play it on camera, the emotions must be near impossible to contain. Every kid who tosses a football in the backyard envisions a moment like that.

It’s also a moment to appreciate.

When Davis and Garoppolo were selected, it was absolutely stirring. But just a handful of years later, the business of the NFL became all too clear.

Davis unexpectedly announced his retirement before the 2023 season, while injuries and other circumstances forced Garoppolo to bounce from the Patriots to San Francisco to Las Vegas and now the Los Angeles Rams.

Getting on that stage and shaking hands with the commissioner offers no guarantees.

It’s all the more reason to bask in the glow of hearing your name announced.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.